A man’s death after a night of partying could be a homicide, and police aren’t short on suspects in Sharrow’s (Virtual Humans, 2014, etc.) mystery.
Faith Hanson is shocked to discover her fiance, Bill Beldon—“Big Willie” to friends—dead the morning after their engagement party. He may be a victim of alcohol poisoning: Bill loved drinking in his “fifth year,” the one just after college before settling into family life. But Hermosa Beach, California, police detective Foley could actually have a murder on his hands. It seems that there were plenty of people who might have wanted Bill dead, from art historian Aaron Watts, who’s obsessed with the unavailable Faith, to the ardent but rejected Big Willie fan Connie Smyth. When Detective Foley interrogates Bill’s friends and associates, he soon realizes that one of them could be a killer. After a quick introduction to the possible killing, the story flashes back six months to reveal the events leading up to Bill’s death. Sharrow takes things at a leisurely pace, following Bill and his pal Nate Green to Mexico, for example, to tour tequila distilleries and Faith to a mani-pedi and a discussion of Bill’s potential infidelity with her best friend, Orphelia Moore. These scenes may appear mundane, but they pay off: at least one of them results in people contemplating nasty things. Likewise, the unhurried narrative effectively manages its myriad characters, and despite some red herrings, there are ample suspects by the time the story returns to the present. There’s not much to Bill beyond the physical, and Sharrow oversells descriptions of the musclebound victim-to-be (who shares his nickname with an impressively sized part of his anatomy). But there’s enough sympathy to go around; Faith, for example, is constantly worried that Bill’s cheating on her, and Connie seems desperate for attention. Others are shrouded in perpetual mystery, such as Nate’s new girlfriend, Lauren Blood, who’s already connected to a couple of bizarre murders.
This whodunit’s slow-paced but never tedious plot will keep readers guessing until Foley closes the case.