In this Midwestern thriller, a disgraced former detective revisits the murder investigation that caused his downfall.
Tony Deluca is a tough, talented homicide detective who, after moving from his native Chicago to Madison, Wis., had his life turned upside down. Years ago, when his investigation of college girl Karen Sumner’s murder went suspiciously awry, thanks to missing evidence and information leaks, he was dismissed from the force, abandoned by his family and forced to take a job as a bar security guard. However, his seemingly dead-end life becomes a lot more exciting when, while fishing, he discovers the body of Chicago lawyer Jennifer Harding at the bottom of a lake. Shortly afterward, the lead suspect in Karen Sumner’s murder, whom Tony wasn’t able to arrest, also turns up dead. Tony becomes determined to find out if the two deaths are connected—and if Karen’s murderer is still on the loose. He uses his connections in the Chicago and Madison police departments to reinsert himself into the investigation, and he quickly starts to unravel the mystery. But he also uncovers new questions about why the first investigation was so bungled, and he soon wonders if there has been a coverup. If so, members of the police department could be involved, so whom can Tony trust? In his debut novel, Wark (Everything You Need to Know About Estate Planning, 2001) creates a likable protagonist, and readers will root for Tony to solve the mystery and end up with his smart, sassy love interest, a bartending law student named Julie. The wonderfully constructed story delivers unexpected twists and turns that will keep readers engaged until they reach the shocking, last-gasp reveal of the murderer. This strong story’s weakness, however, is its dialogue, which sometimes sounds rehearsed (“I have to admit I’ve been wondering why you picked me as your dinner date over all the other eligible bachelors I’m sure you meet on a daily basis”). That said, many readers will enjoy this story of Tony’s quest for justice.
A well-plotted, often engaging murder mystery.