Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese

Thomas Dunne Books, 320 pages, $25.99

“The Big SHEEP” is not exactly noir in the fashion of Raymond Chandler's “The Big SLEEP,” but the setting is the dark side of L.A. And the protagonists are private eyes. Rather, Erasmus Keane is a “phenomenological inquisitor” and Blake Fowler is “Keane’s tether to mundane reality.”

The action takes place somewhere in a future Los Angeles in a United States that has suffered “The Collapse”  an economic catastrophe perhaps, but one in which many people died  and been reconstituted by state and federal governments. L.A. resembled the Wild West in its lawlessness before partial order was restored. But it was too late because some bad guys were already disguised by their corporate personas.

The Disincorporated Zone (DZ) was a desperate attempt to isolate part of Los Angeles. A wall was built (political coincidence noted) and contained whoever was unfortunate (i.e., the poor and disenfranchised) enough to live in the dangerous areas of L.A. John Carpenter already imagined what that world looks like in “Escape from L.A.,” so some of the work has been done for you.

Keane and Fowler are tasked with finding a missing sheep, a bi-i-i-g sheep, Mary, research darling of one of the shadiest of shady corporations, Esper Corp. There’s something about Mary, author Robert Kroese says, in this sci-fi, noirish work. She’s growing human-like organs for one thing. But there might be another anomaly. We just have to wait and see.

Although they don’t normally take on two cases at the same time — but what exactly is “normal” for this duo — Keane accepts Priya Mistry as another client. She is the young, charismatic, glamorous actress of a television (or whatever they have in its place) series, “DiZzy Girl,” set in the DZ. Someone is out to kill her, she says. As proof she shows them a warning note written by “Noogus.” Of course, it must be serious because Noogus was her best friend when she was a child. Noogus was her stuffed teddy bear. And that case only gets weirder when she develops selective amnesia and the P.I.s meet the strange and confused (and strangely confused) people who surround her.

About half way through the book, Kroese starts revealing the surprises. They come pretty frequently until the oh-no-that-didn’t-happen ending. Maybe this book was done tongue-in-cheek or as an allegory or as a provocative statement about the dysfunctional direction of U.S. politics. I took the book and the strange revelations contained at face value. Rather than elevate it to a theater of the absurd, I took it as a story about what it means to be human. (I guess that would make it allegorical.)

I realize the synopsis is rather vague, but I enjoyed how Korese unfolded one bizarre situation after another, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be surprised as well. Perhaps this will give you a hint about what kind of a book “The Big Sheep” is. Blake, the narrator, ruminates at one point:
It was never a good thing when a bad guy started quoting Nietzsche.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

I Shot the Buddha by Colin Cotterill

Soho Crime, 352 pages, $26.95

Once again author Colin Cotterill sends his series characters on outrageous missions, this time with a warning: "A mental health warning: Through necessity this edition is heavily spiced with supernatural elements. For those of you who prefer your mysteries dull and earthly, this is not the tome for you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you."

If you have never read a Dr. Siri Paiboun book before, I’m not sure this would be the place to start. It’s true that Cotterill introduced Dr. Siri’s ability to see “ghosts” from the start (“The Coroner’s Lunch”), but the ghosts have sometimes been less useful than decorative. Cotterill has increasingly made use of the Laotian spirit world (or, more specifically, Dr. Siri’s spirit world) in subsequent books. In “I Shot the Buddha,” ghosts, spirits, shamans, fortune tellers, monks, “the other world,” demons, Auntie Bpoo (a transvestite ghost personally known to Siri when she was alive), amulets, and supernatural shenanigans are at the forefront.

Were you to work backwards in the series from this point, the other novels would seem tamer. Tame is a relative term, since the setting for the series is (mostly) Vientiane, Laos, in the 1970s. Communism is raging on, and Siri and his friends try not to knock on that political door and do try to have a good time, enjoy each other’s company, and sell noodles.

For most of the series (now eleven in number), Siri was Dr. Siri, the only coroner in all of Laos. For him and his morgue assistants, Nurse Dtui and Geung, death was not only a matter to be dissected and labeled, it was to be challenged if suspiciously acquired. Suspiciously acquired death and the investigation thereof always brought peril to the gang, and Cotterill’s version of Laos was eye-opening, amusing, and a gentle reminder that not everything can be understood in Western terms.

Besides his morgue cohorts, Siri’s wife Madame Daeng; Dtui’s husband, Inspector Phosy Vongvichai; and Siri’s old friend, former politburo member Civilai Songsawat are the main characters who almost always have a story or two of their own.

The connecting theme this time is Buddhism. Civilai is off to investigate the claim that an auto mechanic in the tiny village of Ban Toop is the next incarnation of Buddha. He finds a strange and quiet town, with reticent citizens and an elusive headman. Maitreya, the mechanic, laughs off the nomination of enlightenment, and Civilai agrees. Instead of leaving, however, Civilai acts on the feeling that something is not right in the village and decides to snoop, Buddha or no Buddha.

Thai forest monk Noo has been in exile from Thailand and is bedding down in the house Siri was awarded by the Laotian government, but in which he does not live. Instead, Siri invites an odd assortment of lovable people to live in the house, one of whom is Noo. When Noo disappears, at first there is no worry. He is an itinerant monk, after all. Then there is worry and Nurse Dtui, Inspector Phosy, and Geung take on the duty of finding Noo in Vientiane.

Seventy-five-year old, retired coroner Siri and the former "fleur-de-lis of the Free Lao underground movement,” Madame Daeng, in the meantime, have elected to carry out Noo’s mission to ferry a mysterious monk from Laos across a mine-filled river to Thailand. The monk turns out to be Sangharaj, the Supreme Patriarch of Laotian Buddhists. He has been called to Thailand to help out Abbot Rayron who is being framed for several murders. The village of Sawan, where the temple is located, contains a bizarre collection of spiritual helpers, “the Disneyland of animism.” Some evil lurks in its corners, but everyone seems reluctant to talk about it.

“Monks,” one of the characters observes, “are just men with very short haircuts.” And serious enemies. And surprising backstories. And otherworldly allies. Elsewhere, a character complains, “Monks … are like penguins. Once the eyebrows were gone, he couldn’t make out one from the next.” 

Cotterill leads his merry band in philosophical meanderings, with a wry sense of humor. He is not above a gruesome tidbit or two, however. In this book, as with all the Dr. Siri books, the enjoyment comes from a well-told tale, an exotic look at a different culture, and a humor that chides not just one of the characters but the reader as well. Whether you can dig the vibes of a story with spiritual doors between planes of existence, ghostly possession (Siri is sharing psychic space with a thousand-year-old sage), doomsday demon fighting, and the like will color your appreciation of this story. As Cotterill first noted, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wolf Lake by John Verdon

Counterpoint, 375 pages, $25

I’ve been a fan of the Dave Gurney series from the get-go. Author John Verdon mixes standard detective work with wonky serial killer and borderline woo-woo stuff. Gurney has brains and good instinct (and apparently looks like Daniel Craig). “Think of a Number,” the first book in the Gurney series, was a great combination of puzzle, thrills, chills, and eerie characters. But Verdon has not sacrificed Gurney’s personal life story. Gurney’s wife, Madeleine, his upstate New York farm, his search for a peaceful life after the turmoil of big city police work are richly played as a backdrop to Gurney’s current case.

Gurney’s current case this time around is a semi-locked room mystery. At one point in the story, a howling, bodacious winter storm has trapped several people in an isolated resort area in upstate New York. Gurney and his wife become two of the trappees when Gurney agrees to investigate whether a hypnotist, who is a resident of the resort, has hypnotized several men into committing suicide, against their will. (As we know from reading other mystery books, it’s accepted fare that no one can do anything against his or her nature while hypnotized.)

Of course, it’s a tangled skein that prompts Gurney and his co-investigator Jack Hardwich to sink deeper into the stories of the dead men and deeper into the snows of the Wolf Lake resort grounds. In true “The Shining” fashion, everyone seems a little off-kilter, especially the wild-haired and wild-eyed resort handyman, Barlow Tarr, who erupts every so often with warnings of evil and gyring hawks. (And a hatchet makes an appearance. If Daniel Craig is Gurney, then Jack Nicholson is Tarr.)

Before the storm traps our hero and his wife, Gurney and Hardwich cast their inquiries out to sources developed over the years as legitimate lawmen, one of whom is with the CIA, albeit a comically secretive and code-happy one. In fact, high tech toys become a part of the mystery. What’s a seemingly low tech case doing with high tech equipment? Verdon rubs the two together in unexpected ways and springs forth with a surprising answer. (I never in a million, zillion years would have cracked this case.)

They also meet with people who knew the dead men. My favorite was a child-like woman who met Gurney in a doll shop. She was the girlfriend of one of the dead men, and her ethereal, air-headed comments and actions were priceless. If it had gone on much longer, it would have been of the Joan-Crawford-campy variety.

As a poignant counterpoint, Madeleine, too, has a story involving Wolf Lake. It takes a while to draw the story out of her, but in her youth, Madeleine had a connection to the area. There was a tragic death then, which Madeleine thought she had put to rest through therapy but which she clearly hasn’t. It, too, adds to the tension of the story.

Despite the a few vague “hanging chads” left at the end of the book, the resolution was immensely satisfying.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Another One Goes Tonight by Peter Lovesey

Soho Crime, 400 pages, $27.95

“Another One Goes Tonight” is the latest in the Peter Diamond series. I still find it strange that the author should choose to give his creation his own name, but I stubbornly refuse to Google why. Some mysteries, however small, are more interesting in the not knowing.

Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond is the head of the CID in Bath, England. In this latest strange and twisted tale, he is assisted by Keith Halliwell and Ingeborg Smith, annoyingly querulous detectives but loyal when it counts. (I’m trying to remember if there were any vital elements they added to the story, so I can dismiss them summarily. I’m sure they were needed, so I retract the mean-spirited previous comment. But why is Halliwell so named, while Ingeborg is never Smith? Okay, I'm done complaining about them.)

A police officer is killed in an early morning traffic accident. Fortuitously as he investigates the accident site many hours later, Diamond finds the body of a man tossed on an embankment, along with his unusual tricycle. Diamond administers CPR and saves his life, at least for now.

In the process of finding out the identity of the man, now in a coma, Diamond stumbles upon what might be a series of murders. The basis for this belief is tenuous. The “victims” are mostly old and proceeded gently into that good night by seemingly natural events, at least according to the various doctors who signed the death certificates.

A few of the dead were aficionados of steam trains and their appurtenances. One of them was quite wealthy and it came to light that he suspected someone was stealing from him. Diamond ties it to some designer gowns he finds secreted in the comatose man’s locked workroom. Diamond cannot bring official notice to bear upon his mystery because all the evidence he initially obtains is obtained illegally.

Diamond himself is not a totally likable character. Technologically challenged and passive-aggressive about it, not always empathetic, blunt, eccentric, and adamant about doing things his way, Diamond is at war against the criminal element and his own administrative structure. Until his inevitable aha! moment, Diamond totters around throwing red herrings (and red whales) here and there.

The story was interesting and satisfyingly complicated, but I can’t forgive the miscreant for giving up the confessional ghost quite so quickly. On the one hand, of course, it fulfills a mystery reader’s ultimate ambition to understand the who-why-howdunnit. On the other, it should be like pulling especially cantankerous teeth to get someone to cough up all the pertinent details of the crime.

I enjoy the slightly sly British humor. For instance, 
Diamond urging any driver to put their foot down was as unlikely as him taking to the stage at Covent Garden in the pas de deux from Le Corsaire.
I enjoyed this Diamond as I have enjoyed the other Diamonds I’ve read; just had to whinge about the jarring notes.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Branson Beauty by Claire Booth

Minotaur, 320 pages, $25.99

Are you looking for a good, old-fashioned locked-room mystery? Claire Booth wrote one.

Hank Worth is the Sheriff of Branson, Missouri. Yes, the Branson of hillbillies, country-western music, water parks, and dinner theater. Hank is, however, a work of fiction. So, too, is the Branson Beauty, a paddle steamer plying a nearby lake in the Ozarks. Hank is called out in freezing temperatures to help rescue the passengers of the Branson Beauty when it runs aground. He finds a catatonic pilot, upset, mostly elderly passengers, and the dead body of a college student.

Mandy Bryson was a good girl, a star athlete, and friend to all. Why would anyone want to murder her? Perhaps it was her no-account ex-boyfriend who had summarily dismissed her for another. Perhaps it was the anonymous stalker who had been sending increasingly frantic love notes. Perhaps it was her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend. The catch is that she was murdered in a section of the boat that had been locked off from most of the other passengers and crew. Only one of the people, mostly ones she knew, who were attending her ex-boyfriend’s grandmother’s birthday party in the private dining room or the boat’s staff piloting the boat or serving the private meal could have done it. The pilot was her old high school track coach. His assistant was the brother of one of her teammates. The actor hired to enliven the boat tour was well-known locally, and the cook comforted her as she cried about the cruelty of her ex-boyfriend. It is hard to imagine that any one of them could have had a motive.

Hank has only been on the job for a few months, hired to replace his predecessor who has gone on to the state legislature. He traded big city policing for the quiet, he thought, lifestyle of a small town. He and his wife have moved to Branson to take care of his acerbic father-in-law, Duncan. In fact, it is Duncan who takes care of Hank’s family as caregiver to Hank and his wife’s two young children.

From Sheila, the competent, no-nonsense deputy, to Sam, the eager deputy Hank has labeled, “The Pup,” Hank mostly has a competent staff. Apparently, the staff hasn’t ever been put to quite such a test as the current shipwreck, murder, political corruption, and traitorous acts of someone in Hank’s own department have provided.

The continuing catatonia of the pilot and seemingly impeccable behavior of Mandy give Hank nothing to grab onto. He is left with trying to figure out who Mandy’s stalker was. Then the incapacitated showboat burns up and sinks and adds to Hank’s woes. Was it caused by a fuel line that ruptured when the paddlewheel was removed or was it arson? If it was arson, why would that be connected to Mandy's death?

Booth handles her characters well. Hank is a good, down-to-earth, smart, family-oriented man. His wife, Maggie, is still a bit of a lightly sketched character, but their children, Maribel and Benny, are kid-like kids, a relief after reading many books in which children are preternaturally somber or traumatized. Sheila and Sam, the deputies, are competent and slowly allowed to come into their own personalities. Some of the bigger villains are one-dimensionally villainous, but that turns out to be okay. The better to really dislike them. The solutions to the various mysteries that crop up are tied up in a traditional Agatha Christie fashion with tidy confessions, but that, too, is okay. The better to sleep at night.

The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock

Doubleday, 384 pages, $27.95

There’s a lot to be said for having lived another life before taking up a pen and writing critically praised books. Donald Ray Pollock grew up in Knockemstiff, Ohio. (Not so strange, then, is the title of his first book, a short story collection named “Knockemstiff.”) He worked as a laborer and truck driver until he was 45. He then received an MFA from Ohio State and began to write. Like Athena, born fully formed, Pollock’s books arrived fully formed. No fumbling around for him. For “The Heavenly Table,” a very different crime novel set in an impoverished part of the South in 1917, Pollock wrote what he knows: people and their miseries, and put it in an interesting time period, at the start of World War I.

“The Heavenly Table” contains the stories of many people from all walks of life. Some of those stories are longer than others, but even the vignettes are mighty worthy. The characters who stay the longest and whose peregrinations provide the thread that binds all the other characters are the Jewett brothers: Cain, Cob, and Chimney. At the start of the story, they and their pop, Pearl, are dirt-poor, starving tenant farmers.

When Pearl departs his mortal coil, the brothers leave to find their fortune in Canada. To finance their dream, they begin to rob banks and businesses in obeisance to their hero, Bloody Bill Bucket. Cain is the only one who learned to read. Over and over he read to his brothers the one book they had, a dime-novel about an adventurous scallawag, Bill Bucket. (When the book is finally lost, one of the brothers says that it doesn’t make any difference because they’ve all memorized it.)

Also running through the book are the stories of farmers Ellsworth and Eula Fiddler, fiddled out of their life savings by a traveling con man; sanitation inspector Jasper Cone, a lonely soul who takes his job seriously; Sugar, a poor black boy who ran away from his southern home to make it rich in Detroit and is now a poor black man running back to his childhood home; Lt. Bovard, a young man escaping a “Dear John” situation (and an incipient awareness that he is a homosexual) by joining the army and hoping to get sent to the Front for a glorious death; various inhabitants of The Whore Barn; and Pollard, a creepy bartender. Most of their stories take place in Ohio where their paths cross, however briefly.

As the brothers become more worldly and much more notorious, their poignant loyalty to each other remains. As the number of those who hunt them grows, it is easy to envision the inevitability of a Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid ending, but hope springs eternal that the Canada of their dreams is only a whisper away.

Pollock combines the grittiness, despair, humor, craftiness, resilience, cruelty, and compassion of ordinary people to make a strangely wonderful novel. His strength lies in his ability to juggle the stories of so many disparate people in an artful but natural way and in his superior writing skills. Pollock says one of the tricks he used to learn how to write was to take a short work by a master writer and type it out. He learned structure and dialogue by doing this. Later he learned what voice suited him best.

Pollock can intimately put us within the impoverished world of the mostly illiterate southern tenant farmer and the middle class one of a college-educated military man. He can describe the daily humiliation of being black and poor. He can show us big and small examples of the devil’s work, demon rum, and godforsaken poverty.

Here's a little story within the grander one:
Cob didn’t say anything. In fact, it is doubtful that he heard a word that was being said, for he was now holding a ham the size of a newborn infant. It was like something he’d imagine you’d find on the heavenly table, in between the roast beef and the spare ribs, but instead it was right here, in his dirty hands. He had heard Pearl talk about sin and gluttony and false riches enough to know he should toss it to the ground and stomp it, but, shit, what would be the sense of doing that now? He had just killed a man. He was going to hell anyway. Raising it up to his mouth, he tore a big hunk off with his teeth and began to chew.

MBTB star!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Asset by Shane Kuhn

Simon & Schuster, 288 pages, $26

“The Asset” is an thriller. A shadowy evil is threatening to terminate the United States with extreme prejudice. The only one who can save us is Kennedy, an expert in airport security. Does Kennedy have a last name? It speaks to author Shane Kuhn’s plain, straightforward style that it seems irrelevant to dwell on the last names of characters who exist primarily for their function. Even those characters who have whole names distill to their “Cher”-like monikers immediately.

It’s misleading of me to imply that Kennedy has no history and is merely a contrivance to move the plot forward. Kuhn gives him a background, a motivation to do what he does and be the loner he is. (When a love interest -- whose one name is "Love" -- pops up, Kennedy easily moves into that state of being, so we know he’s not a complete loner.) But for the most part, Kennedy exists to move the plot forward, as do the other characters who slot themselves into the characters necessary to form an operations team, which is a bit of a cliché.

Where Kuhn escapes the cliché is in the story. He takes us behind the scenes of a sometimes clumsy TSA and a nasty version of Homeland Security, represented by a nasty agent, and a CIA in which one of the many hands can escape notice of the other hands, represented by an agent who co-opts Kennedy onto a hastily constructed team. And Kuhn’s fictional universe is interesting.

Kennedy is the only person who can install a piece of machinery into airport scanning machines that will help the CIA defeat criminal mastermind Lentz, who is planning something nefarious. Kennedy and his team run afoul of one setback (or traitorous act) after another, and that’s the story. Once again, it’s the fictional inside look at security organizations (however far-fetched) and the running of the machinery that provides a thin shield against acts of terrorism that provides the page-turning oomph.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Hemingway Thief by Shaun Harris

Seventh Street Books, 240 pages, $15.95

The very interesting website, Lost Manuscripts, explains the tale of Hemingway’s missing suitcase. It is upon this true story that Shaun Harris builds his darkly funny, criminal-road-trip-in-Mexico story, “The Hemingway Thief.”

In a nutshell, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife packed all of his stories, carbons and all, into a suitcase, which was then stolen at a Paris train station. The as-yet-unpublished Ernest had to start from scratch, and we know how that turned out.

In contemporary times, an author, Henry “Coop” Cooper, has gone to Mexico to contemplate killing himself. In a strictly literary sense. His alias, Toulouse Velour, a scribbler of vampire love stories, must die, so Coop, the serious author, can live. Alas, Toulouse is a golden goose. His public and his publisher love him. His public pictures him as a shimmering goddess. Instead, he is a beer-swilling, pot-toking loser. The “serious author” in him is crying to be let out. Unfortunately, the “serious author” hasn’t written a damn thing while in his sleepy Mexican hideaway.

What Coop has accomplished is to get to know another American ex-pat, the local hotelier, Grady Doyle. It is in Grady’s bar one fine day that two villains come to roust a young man who has passed out at one of Grady’s tables. The young man is Eben Milch and, without knowing his story, Grady and a reluctant Coop come to his rescue. All three men now have acquired a serious enemy, Newton Thandy, a shady antiquarian. And now the three men are on the run, running from Thandy and running towards the fabled suitcase of Hemingway’s manuscripts.

Shaun Harris must have had a great time naming his characters. Digby is the hotel handyman who proves to be oh-so-much more. Pièta is a hitwoman. El Cuerno (The Horn) is a villain. Dutch is a weed grower extraordinaire. Elmo is the wise man on the mountain, or at least the philosopher on the mount. You get the idea perhaps that Harris has some wacky times planned for his adventurers.

Harris’ tale was fun to read, although during times of one-sentence exchanges, his characters were sometimes indistinguishable from each other. “The Hemingway Thief” reminded me of Johnny Shaw’s books, wacky and action-filled, but Shaw’s books have more depth and narrative strength. This would be a good book to read while on vacation in Mexico.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham

Mulholland Books, 400 pages, $26

Once again, in his latest entry in the O’Loughlin-Ruiz series set in England, author Michael Robotham concentrates more on psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin than on retired police detective Vincent Ruiz. I prefer the Ruiz stories, because Joe’s life is more to be pitied (and I’m not referring to his Parkinson’s disease) than Ruiz’s pick-yourself-up-and-dust-yourself-off one. Robotham can write Joe’s thoughts with more flourish and nuance, so he’s the more obvious literary choice. Despite my leaning heavily in favor of Ruiz’s stories, “Close Your Eyes,” the tenth in the series, is both exciting and poignant. And Ruiz makes a small but significant appearance.

The story thus far: Joseph O’Loughlin was a successful practicing psychologist in London, with a wife and two young girls. A dark cloud hovered over him briefly when he was a suspect in a murder investigation carried on by DI Vincent Ruiz. Joe and Ruiz have become best friends over the course of the books. They are as close as brothers, while being physically, temperamentally, and intellectually different. Ruiz has had many wives. Joe’s marriage has crumbled, although he carries tattered hopes that one day it might be patched up. Early on, at much too young an age, Joe was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. His symptoms have steadily gotten worse, but not enough to curtail a limited involvement with police activities, even though Ruiz has retired. Before the breakup, Joe and his family moved to a quaint village near Bath, but after the breakup, he returned to London to work.

In summing up this time, Joe says, “I am not the same person I was a decade ago. Existence has become infinitely more complex and less joyful.”

Joe’s sorrow over his domestic situation has haunted the books. He loves his daughters and longs for his wife. They are his weakness and occasionally have been in peril because of that. Joe is surprised when his wife, the eternally perfect and unobtainable Julianne, asks him to move in for the summer to help take care of the girls while they are on school holiday. Their oldest, Charlie, has just graduated and is contemplating a college major in forensic psychology, following in her father’s footsteps. This is daunting to both her parents, because she was kidnapped and traumatized when she was younger by one of her father’s foes. Nevertheless, she talks her father into letting her help — mostly by driving — him with his latest case.

Against his better judgment, Joe has answered a call from Veronica Cray, DCS of the serious crime squad and Ruiz’s antagonistic ex-colleague. In a case a little too close to home, a mother and teenage daughter have been killed. Soon Joe and the police figure out that it is part of a series of crimes that have been growing in gravity and intensity. Joe would pull back from this investigation were it not for the presence of “The Mindhunter,” a third-rate, ex-psychology student of his. Because of The Mindhunter's ill-advised efforts, the case suffers a setback. Although Joe now has other personal worries and responsibilities, he throws his weight behind the investigation.

As the complexities of the case continue to rise, Joe ponders how difficult it actually may be to solve a case in which there are now many more players and suspects. He muses:
Up until now I’ve had some vague notion that I might stumble upon the key that unlocks this crime — a cache of family papers, or a diary, or a bundle of love letters — but nothing is going to arrive in the post or fall into my lap.
Robotham is good at presenting thrilling conclusions to his books. This one is no exception and is further compounded by an untenable dilemma at the end that will bring out the hankies. This is another wonderful book by Michael Robotham in a series about a man who constantly has to make difficult moral choices. Welcome to Joe’s world.