In Behar’s mystery, two disturbing murders connect to a long-cold case involving assault, manipulation, and missing memories.
A brief, intriguing prologue in September 1996 sets the scene, as a Massachusetts man named James Murray comes across an obituary for Raymond “Pokey” Parker, a former day care worker who was serving a 25-to-40-year sentence for sexual assault, a crime for which he claimed innocence until the day he died. Although James has no connection to this man or his crime, the name stirs a memory deep inside. About two years later, straight-shooting detectives Barney Freedman and Herb McCauley investigate the brutal murder of Marcia Shore, a former prosecutor responsible for locking Parker up. Just weeks later, the partners discover the body of Lucille Bennett, a child psychologist who assisted in the case against Parker, killed in the same disturbing way. As Freedman and McCauley dig into the harrowing and multifaceted case from years ago, brief asides take readers back one year earlier through email exchanges among five childhood friends who suspect they’re all connected to Parker. The young men and women believe that parts of their memories have been erased. The cast of characters is generally engaging, although some feel slightly clichéd (such as the disgruntled-yet-sympathetic detectives) and others, frustratingly underdeveloped (the five distraught childhood friends). However, the novel does effectively provide a pool of potential suspects to comb through. Readers will be aided by Behar’s thorough, if occasionally long-winded, exploration of each character’s thought process. The seasoned author is a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general, which is particularly evident in the novel’s courtroom-drama aspects.
A well-plotted and intriguing story that will keeps readers guessing.