Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Book Review: A Convenient Death (An Eden Mystery) by Laurel Heidtman

The List of Suspects Will Keep You Guessing ‘til the End

You and Sticks have fallen into the biggest pot of suspects I’ve ever seen.”  That was the opinion of the chief of police and boss of Detective Jo Valentine, the protagonist of A Convenient Death.  And it was mine too.  Jo and her partner, Gerald “Sticks” Mullens unearthed a veritable menagerie of possible killers of a convenience store clerk and an elderly customer, from a meth addict to other law enforcement officers to the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at a local university.  And just when you think you know who the killer is, our detectives turn over another stone and a few more suspects scurry out.

The book is an Eden Mystery, one of several.  But for the interested reader, it isn’t part of a numbered series and this novel is clearly standalone.  About the only theme with a continuing thread was a romantic interest between Jo and Dan Cobb.  There seemed some history there, but otherwise, everything is neatly tied up by the time you read ‘The End’.

Author Heidtman followed the dictum, write what you know, as according to her bio, she was once a police officer.  It shows in the story; the police work feels real.  About the only exception was how readily the suspects broke under questioning by Jo and Sticks – I thought one or two might have given them more trouble.  Of course, that’s based on my extensive experience watching crime shows on TV.  I also enjoyed the author’s informal writing style, laced with dry humor.  Consider this description of one of the many suspects:  “The old saw ‘nice guys finish last’ came to mind when she looked at Walton and wondered how he'd convinced a hot babe like Tracy Andrews to say ‘I do’.”  A style like that makes for a fun, fast read.

Overall, if you want to play the whodunit guessing game with a talented author, give A Convenient Death a try.  My money, however, is on Ms. Heidtman.

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