With his first novel, Kaster enters the murky waters of the murder mystery genre with a whopper of a whodunit.
Five years after leaving him, Harry Evers’ wife, Kate, returns to Wisconsin, but this time in a casket after her apparent suicide. As friends and relatives gather to mourn Kate’s passing, Harry, an investigator for the district attorney’s office, questions the circumstances surrounding his estranged wife’s death. Kate had named Harry and her sister, Annie, executors of her will; Annie accepts the suicide and just wants to get on with settling her sister’s estate, but Harry is determined to investigate Kate’s death, and he’ll let nothing stand in his way, including Annie’s indignation. Kaster wonderfully develops the eclectic cast, even though some characters appear infrequently, causing a certain amount of confusion. At times, it’s difficult to keep straight the characters’ names and relevance to the story, but diverting attention from various suspects adds to the tale’s shady ambience. Kaster uses classic techniques of false trails and dead ends to create suspense, never failing to muster a strong desire to turn the page. Like Harry, the story relentlessly moves forward, leaving no stone unturned in pursuit of the truth. As far as Harry’s concerned, the main suspect is his older cousin, Brian, for whom Kate had left him. When Brian’s parents were killed, Harry’s father took him in and raised him like a son, much to Harry’s chagrin. To add insult to injury, Harry’s relatives are convinced his investigation is nothing more than a misguided attempt at revenge, so Harry must mollify his family while battling his own demons in his search for answers.
Aside from some who’s-who confusion, this novel is sure to entertain any sleuth.