Suspenseful mystery debut features complex twists and turns, yet lacks clear, concise writing.
When foster parents Morris and Valerie are brutally murdered, their adult foster children become primary suspects. As detectives investigate the murders, they focus on Valerie's $800,000 life-insurance policy, which names her sister Reba as beneficiary. However, when Reba discloses her intent to honor Valerie’s wishes and distribute the money equally among the foster children, it lessens her likelihood as a suspect. As the detectives delve into the suspicious activities of former foster children–one a drug dealer, another a former juvenile delinquent–the body count rises. Even the homeless man who witnessed the bodies being dumped is murdered, as is one of the foster children. Additional subplots, such as a detective’s penchant for prostitutes and a fellow officer’s difficulties with his daughter-in-law, are unrelated and detract from the main storyline. Many characters aren’t well-developed, which creates confusion and interrupts the flow. Repeated spelling and punctuation errors make the quality suffer, and even more disheartening is the failure to identify the alluded-to setting. While an abundance of red herrings helps the mystery inch forward, overly long paragraphs leave the reader mired in insignificant details and minor subplots. The characters never seem to come alive, and the novel lacks realism.
Underdeveloped characters and confusing setting changes undermine a potentially entertaining mystery.