My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book won first place in the West Virginia Writers Inc state wide novel contest. I met the author at a local signing. It was inspired by two actual murders that happened in 1970 on WVU’s campus. I went to school not too far from WVU 15 years later though I never heard of these murders. The author did give me the website to do my own research on this but I didn’t do that before reading this mystery.
As it turns out inspired means having truly nothing to do with the original murders but taking the details and the flawed investigation and spinning it into a work of complete fiction (a common mystery writer technique). There is a large cast of characters including Chase, a disgraced crime reporter now stuck on the society beat and his former lover, Carol who is now the chief of police. There’s Shango, homeless army vet who sometimes crashes with Chase and helps him out. Collins, the FBI agent, who is in town to guide the investigation into a series of new murders similar to the old ones and Detective Watts assigned to the case. Also, there is Devon, a mysterious man who may or may not be involved in the killings, Alexandra a psychiatrist and her patient, Maria who also have their roles to play.
Two girls in recent weeks have gone missing after hitchhiking. Chase believes that they might be related to the Clawson killings a few years back. He didn’t believe Clawson was guilty, leading to him before forced off the crime beat. No one wants his involvement in this case at all. However, soon Carol has to admit Chase might be on to something and she’s not sure she can trust Watts or Collins. It’s very possible the FBI agent is out to make sure this case is never solved.
As it goes on, weaving back and forth between the characters (all the chapters are very short), it seems like there are broader forces at work here and true Satanism might be at play. Chase’s life comes under fire more than once but he is dogged in his pursuit of this case. With no one sure who they can count on, it’s possible their division of ranks could mean failure.
Overall, I liked the mystery. It’s well written though it has one very odd word in it used again and again ‘collinsate.’ I was thinking maybe someone was making a joke at Collins’s expense but more than one character used it and I can’t find it in a dictionary. Oh well. I did, however, have trouble connecting with the characters. I didn’t particularly like any of them all that much. I didn’t hate them and they were believeable but I just didn’t click. Still, it was a good read. I did google Mared Malarik, one of the real victims and the case is just bizarre.
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