In Redden’s (Love’s a Crime, 2009) mystery, a detective investigating the murder of a respected attorney uncovers dark secrets.
Small-town Pennsylvania lawyer Seth Molloy is murdered, leaving behind a wife, Debbie, and three children. Police Detective Frank Logan becomes convinced early on that the attorney wasn’t killed as part of a botched robbery attempt, as it initially appears. He soon finds evidence that someone deliberately targeted Molloy for murder. Initial suspects include Debbie, an unhappily married woman, and Raymond Sinclair, the man she was considering leaving her husband for. Then Logan discovers that Molloy had a previous family; his ex-wife, after their bitter divorce proceedings, took their two children and disappeared, in defiance of a court order granting him full custody. The detective doggedly looks into Molloy’s past and soon finds that this pillar of the community had a dark side that affected everyone he came in contact with—a fact that finally leads Logan to discover the truth and find Molloy’s killer. Readers may find that this small-town, old-fashioned mystery novel’s standard characters and situations prevent them from becoming fully involved with the story. The prose struggles with clichés at times, as when a character observes that “[l]ife isn’t fair,” and the overall narrative doesn’t generate enough tension or interest about who killed Molloy and why. The mystery might have worked better as a satiric commentary on small-town values, exposing the desires and hypocrisies of its provincial characters, but instead, it’s as contained as an episode of a television mystery. Overall, this novel might have had more impact as a short story.
A generic, unengaging mystery.