In Verdeyen’s debut thriller, there’s a hitch to a man’s perfect murder of his wife: he must travel to Indiana to recover jewelry from a mistakenly sold piece of furniture.
Attorney Steven Babcock may have gotten away with murder. He seems to have covered all his bases in the plot to kill his wife, Marian, but he didn’t count on the auction company inadvertently selling his hutch, where he’s stashed some of Marian’s more extravagant jewels. He manages to track the hutch to antique shop owner Bob Hillard in Illinois. Unfortunately, he has to kill Bob to get the pertinent information: Indiana native Jennifer Osbourn, it seems, is the hutch’s newest owner. Steven is on the hunt, but Jennifer and Chicago PI Matt Broadhurst are looking into Bob’s murder. The lawyer’s inquiries to Jennifer about the antique piece make the two suspicious, and it might not be easy for Steven to retrieve the jewelry. Verdeyen’s novel is a subdued but competent thriller. Steven, for one, is a frighteningly meticulous villain. He’s generally impolite but not outright violent, and his plot for Marian’s murder is chillingly cold and depraved. A fair amount of first-person perspective from Steven only solidifies his detailed scheming and unsettling lack of guilt or empathy. His behavior when searching for the jewelry, however, is strange: he doesn’t simply explain the error to Bob or insist that the company, whose auctioneer admitted to the mistake, reclaim the hutch for him. In fact, he becomes increasingly desperate as the story progresses, which adds to the suspense, especially when he assumes that the hutch is in Jennifer’s house. There’s an implied attraction between Jennifer and Matt, but it fortunately never overwhelms the story. The duo form an unlikely but believable investigative team, piecing together recent goings-on like an odd phone call or a shopper at Jennifer’s store asking about a hutch. Still, some of their decisions are confusing: Matt suggests not calling the cops because, he says, the two have neither a name nor a description of Bob’s possible killer, though Steven’s mysterious call and shop visit have given Jennifer both.
Character actions don’t always make sense, but the story carries a marked impression of dread and impending doom.