PORTRAIT OF DECEIT  by J. C. Andrew

PORTRAIT OF DECEIT

A Kira Logan Mystery
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KIRKUS REVIEW

An Arizona painter who’s working on a series of original portraits gets caught up in a murder investigation in Andrew’s (Homicide in Bronze, 2018, etc.) latest series thriller.

Kira Logan’s last few commissions as an artist have taken her out of state, so she’s happy her newest job is closer to her home in the Phoenix area. She’s to paint a portrait of Bonnie Barlow, a friend from her regular exercise class at the local spa. Then Frank Thornton, the business partner of Bonnie’s realtor husband, Carlton, enlists Kira for three additional portraits of himself, Carlton, and Frank’s wife, Patricia. Bonnie has nothing nice to say about Frank, and Kira’s own impression of him is that he’s demanding and controlling, particularly when it comes to his wife. But it’s worse than that—the Barlows’ son, Alan, has been secretly conversing with Patricia and wants to help her escape Frank’s physical abuse. The Thorntons’ teenage children, Stephanie and Dale, are generally withdrawn, and Frank may be sexually abusing the former. So when someone decides to kill Frank, the police have a long list of suspects. Kira ultimately decides to investigate in order to make sure that an innocent person doesn’t wind up in prison. Andrew offers a commendable depiction of domestic abuse, adeptly showing the struggle that Patricia faces; simply leaving Frank may seem like the obvious choice, but she fears for her children’s well-being—whether she takes them with her or leaves them behind. The story also effectively dramatizes different types of abuse. The murder mystery, however, is far less enthralling. Cops interrogate people, and Kira and Bonnie speculate as to who the killer could be, but very little of the story actually involves piecing together evidence. Still, the narrative is never stagnant, as Andrew maintains an unwavering pace and a well-developed cast of characters.

A riveting treatment of a serious issue that outweighs the accompanying mystery.

Page count: 276pp
Publisher: manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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