In Fritze’s (The Case for Killing, 2014) thriller, a colleague’s death stirs up old memories for a man who years ago had been arrested for a friend’s murder.
Paul Tews, a lawyer, reconnects with his friend Louis, who hopes to clean the slate with his friends before succumbing to the tumor in his liver. He apologizes to Paul for not being more supportive 15 years earlier when Paul went on trial for the murder of their cocaine-loving mutual pal Art. Paul, who’d threatened Art the night before Art took a bullet in his skull, wasn’t convicted of the crime. But reuniting with his old clique brings back images that Paul doesn’t want to think (or dream) about, such as a wary jury eying him post-verdict. Paul also reconnects with Grace, with whom he was enamored long ago and who invites him to Rome. Unfortunately, weirdness greets him in Italy: Paul is sure that someone’s spying on them, and he’s endlessly questioned about Art’s murder by Grace, who, it seems, is hiding something. Readers craving a customary murder mystery may be in for a disappointment: The mystery’s there, but Fritze steadfastly sidesteps trappings of the genre by putting the murder on the back burner and focusing on its aftermath years later. It takes quite a while for Paul to get to Rome, but that’s when the story truly hits its stride in scenes wrought with tension. Grace’s intentions eventually come to light in a sequence that’s shocking and bound to make readers cringe. And Fritze aptly ties off the loose ends in a lengthy coda so full of revelations—as well as a few new mysteries—that it practically demands a reread. Astonishingly, Fritze succeeds in maintaining a laudable protagonist who may have gotten away with murder. In the end, though, the journey to the reveal is far more intriguing than the answer.
Impressive execution and admirable in its open defiance of traditional murder mysteries.