A debut murder mystery set among wealthy people in the small Canadian city of Burlington, Ontario.
After two bodies are found mutilated on Michael Flanigan’s home golf course, the widower and father inevitably becomes the investigation’s main suspect. The wrongly accused Flanigan, however, decides to look into the murders on his own. His investigation eventually leads him to question the circumstances behind his own wife’s recent death, and he dwells deeply on his past. At the same time, he tries to maintain relationships with his woman-crazed friends, his surly but loving stepdaughter, his emotionally distant son and a new love interest. As the story progresses, he deliberates about whether to hold on to a painful past or embrace a new life. However, he’s clearly not content to move forward, as his past brims with unanswerable questions and lifelong social rivalries. Murphy takes readers along for Flanigan’s every move, step by step, and shows how an inexperienced and somewhat clueless sleuth goes about getting the answers he wants. Murphy delivers scenes full of confident dialogue and witty prose (“ ‘Still the old soul, I see,’ he said. ‘Listening to an album Clapton made before I started shaving.’ ”), but they sometimes sidetrack Flanigan’s quest. After the fifth scene at a golf club—where Flanigan ogles waitresses and drinks with his buddies—readers get to know the characters well, but, as a result, the overarching mystery gets lost for chapters on end. Although the story does progress, readers may find that it moves too slowly, particularly for such a short novel. Murphy’s style is contagious and, with it, he effectively brings his characters to life, but some readers may prefer a fast-moving plot over detailed character portraits.
A well-written but slow-paced mystery.