In this mystery thriller, a convicted criminal is set free after becoming a cause célèbre—but it turns out that the woman who orchestrated his release has a hidden agenda.
This media-drenched age is full of causes: Save the whales, find the child, don’t eat certain foods, free the wrongly convicted. The latter is the theme of Finley’s debut novel, which opens with Sabbath Dyme of Little Rock, Arkansas, awaiting execution following his conviction for murdering two children. His case had all the earmarks of a wrongful prosecution—bad lawyers; ignorant jurors; a clueless, teenage defendant—and several celebrities have been advocating for his release. However, the effort seems stalled until a local Little Rock woman named Dawn Daniels forms a high-profile nonprofit organization dedicated to setting him free. After Sabbath is ultimately set free, he marries Dawn and moves to an exclusive neighborhood in Little Rock. One night, however, the couple has an argument, and Dawn falls into a nearby pond. Afterward, it’s slowly revealed that her motives may not have been completely altruistic. This smart, lively mystery has engaging characters, snappy dialogue and enough surprises to keep readers interested. It repeatedly turns convention on its head; just when the characters’ roles seem clear, the author switches things up. Suddenly, the strong becomes weak, the guileless guilty, and the predator prey. This effect works especially well with a character named Connie, who starts off as an all-knowing neighbor but winds up a hapless victim. Similarly, the book starts by focusing on Sabbath but features him less and less as the story progresses, until he eventually becomes a mere supporting player. Finley keeps the book free of unnecessary subplots and resists the temptation to detour the story into extraneous detail. The result is a book that, like a racehorse, starts off strong, sprints in a straight line and doesn’t quit until the finish line.
A fast-paced, smoothly told thriller.