Utterly exciting and deliciously readable … A solid mystery.
Rife with brutal killings, revenge, and intrigue, Lively’s finely crafted latest pits a clueless retired attorney against a vindictive killer. Retired from his law practice, Charles Pierce is doing pro bono work for non-profits. And he is content focusing on his art, with a rental studio located in a vibrant neighborhood as part of a gallery. Even a hostile stranger threatening him while in the studio and the public prosecutor forcing him to become a witness in a poison case are not enough to shatter his newfound state of contentment. But when a series of killings rock the city, with Charles’s business cards found at murder scenes, Charles finds himself at the center of police scrutiny. With no enemy in sight, Charles struggles to find the perpetrator. The narrative remains engrossing right from the first page, prompting quick turns of the pages, and the story never loses momentum even when new characters make their entry, adding to the growing list of suspects. Lively makes good use of usual mystery tropes, including old grudges and regrets, revenge, murder, and romance, delivering plenty of thrilling cat-and-mouse maneuvers and life-threatening situations. Lively’s prose is crisp, narrative fluid, and he devotes special attention to drawing his characters, particularly Charles, showing how he remains affected by events of his past concerning Jamie. Charles is wholly sympathetic and too trusting. His sweet bond with Sam and Rachel and his artistic endeavors fill the reader with a sense of warmth and belonging. Readers will find it hard not to root for him. Detective Gonzales, with his analytical and sharp nature remains an interesting character throughout. The characters’ interactions and their interpersonal relationships are particularly fascinating, as is Charles and Jamie’s intriguing backstory. Though mystery stays at the heart of the book, the novel is steeped firmly in the intrigues of individual struggles, relationships, interpersonal dynamic, friendship, and revenge. Lively does a good job building suspense as he gradually reveals the intricate connections among the top players. Relentless twists and shocking revelations keep the tension ripe, and apt clues lead to a satisfying solution to the major conflict in the story, which despite an abrupt ending, is thoroughly convincing as all the loose ends coming to a satisfying close. The expert combination of immersive prose and the expertly executed plot makes for a memorable experience. The novel should easily find a home with the lovers of sophisticated mysteries.
By Jim Lively
Treaty Oak Publishers
Pub date June 14, 2021
Price $10.95 (USD) Paperback, $2.95 Kindle edition