A gripping murder mystery that pits a woman’s ex-lover against his replacement.
De Michiel’s (Trust, 2011) second novel opens with the familiar sight of a man nursing a broken heart. Kelvin Kempleton has lost not only Cynthia, the woman he dated for six years, but also his job as a stand-up comedian. As Kelvin picks up a lonely takeout dinner, his ear catches the sound of Cynthia’s distinct laugh. He sees her arm in arm with the wealthy Marcus Weatherly, and they get into his Porsche to drive back to Marcus’ mansion. Unable to stop himself, Kelvin follows them and, later, lets himself into Marcus’ house. While there, in a sudden moment of desperation, he grabs a painting from the wall and dashes into the night. The next day, he’s relieved to see that there’s no news of his break-in, but his relief turns to anguish when two police officers appear at his door. Instead of questioning him about the stolen painting, they want to know if he had anything to do with a shooting that took place at the house, injuring Cynthia and killing Marcus. This shocking turn of events becomes more perplexing after Kelvin meets Maze Willow, a woman who introduces him to an ancient religion filled with secrets regarding the invisible hands of fate. Kelvin begins to understand that he must correct his action but then discovers that the painting is actually counterfeit—and that an assassin has been hired to hunt down its thief. This well-paced, readable mystery unlocks the underworld of the art industry and also takes a hard look at issues of fate and destiny. Kelvin is a sympathetic, likable hero whose quest for absolution and desire for a second chance are relatable and heartfelt. Readers will appreciate the book’s many layers; it works both as a plot-driven thriller and as a story of soul-searching and personal growth.
A multilayered, thoughtful mystery that’s full of surprises.