A private investigator trying to prove the innocence of a woman charged with murder in Mobile, Alabama, finds himself unwittingly caught in a conspiracy leading to further deaths in Sloke’s (Sam and the O’Malley Brothers, 2013) thriller.
PI Jack “Stace” Stacey’s job for attorney/friend Carl Anthony is straightforward: look into the evidence against Carl’s client, Maria Martin. Cops have arrested Maria, a socialite, for the bludgeoning death of her accountant husband, Forrest. Carl thinks the evidence is flimsy, and Stace is inclined to agree; right away, he questions a photo of Forrest in bed with a paramour because the PI himself has never caught adulterers in such a compromising position. Then again, he soon learns Maria’s withholding pertinent info, which could be a sign of her guilt. But while Stace makes it clear his investigation involves only Maria and not tracking down a potential murderer, things get more personal when hit men target him and his family. Suddenly, the FBI joins the case, having linked the hit men to a money-laundering operation in Mobile. Stace, a former FBI agent, is now working with the feds and local PD to stop rampant criminal activity, including more murders. Sloke’s entertaining novel piles on mysteries; one murder suspect becomes a murder victim. Good and bad guys slowly accumulate, but the author shrewdly keeps all characters and corresponding crimes well-organized, so much so that later recaps (i.e., for reporters) are largely unnecessary. Prankster Carl furnishes welcome comic relief, while other dangers boost tension, especially Stace’s braving a hurricane to get home to his wife and son. The latter allows Sloke to display his knack for descriptive passages: the PI takes an “eerily dark” ride in which simple objects like a garbage can lid are “potential lethal projectiles.” Occasional blunders, from grammatical errors to inconsistencies (Maria’s maiden name changing), are minor but still a nuisance.
A sharp mystery with a bevy of complicated characters and puzzle pieces.