Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Mortician's Daughter - Elizabeth Bloom

The Mortician’s Daughter
Elizabeth Bloom
Mysterious Press


Ginny Lavoie is sitting at home, feeling bad because, after 11 years on the force, she’s been suspended from the NYPD. When the phone rings, her first thought is to ignore it. Then she hears the voice of her best friend since early childhood, Sonya Markowicz. Sonya’s son, Danny, 19, is dead. His badly beaten body was found in an abandoned factory. There’s no question about what Ginny needs to do. She immediately heads back to her hometown in Massachusetts. She thought she’d never go back, and it takes about two minutes for her to realize why: the industrial boom is over; buildings that aren’t empty or torn down are being renovated into condos for people from NYC.

As a (former) detective, Ginny is appalled at the slapdash investigation carried out by the local PD. They zeroed in on Jack, a homeless man who’s been known as the town nutcase since he came home from Vietnam with a bad case of post-traumatic stress. True, Danny’s wallet was found in Jack’s coat. But Jack has never been violent before, and both Ginny and Sonya find it impossible to believe that he’s the killer. Sonya begs Ginny to find the real killer, and Ginny feels compelled to do so, despite the fact that the investigation will dredge up a lot of memories best left forgotten. But everything changes when more bodies turn up around the small town that, prior to Danny’s death, had no homicides.

This second outing, from the author of last year’s SEE ISABELLE RUN, is an interesting and complex novel. Some of the townspeople veer uncomfortably close to caricature, but, for the most part, everyone acts in a very realistic way. Ginny is a sympathetic individual, and through her eyes, readers get a real feel for the town, both as it was, and as it is now. The suspect pool widens enough to provide several possible outcomes, and readers will be with kept guessing as to the outcome. No sophomore slump here; Ginny is a great character, solving an intricate crime.

Rating: 8
August 2006
ISBN# 0-89296-786-2 (hardcover)


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