Monday, August 09, 2010

Sketch Me If You Can - Sharon Pape

Sketch Me If You Can
A Portrait Of Crime Mystery
Sharon Pape
Berkley Prime Crime


When Rory McCain’s beloved Uncle Mac died suddenly, she inherited his house, his car, and his detective agency. As a police sketch artist, Rory doesn’t have a lot of investigative experience, so she decides to refund retainers and refer clients to other agencies. One client, however, Jeremy Logan, has faith in her abilities. Mac was investigating the death of Jeremy’s sister, Gail Oberlin. Gail was a sought-after interior designer who also had a lot of enemies in both her personal and professional lives. She died after a fall down a grand staircase in a house she was working on, and the authorities ruled it accidental. Jeremy isn’t so sure, and after a little digging, Rory agrees.

Along with the material inheritance, Rory also gains custody, so to speak, of one Ezekiel Drummond, a federal marshal from the Arizona Territory. Make that a “late” federal marshal. Zeke’s last case was investigating the serial deaths of several young girls in 1878. His search led him to the house that would become Rory’s, where someone stabbed him in the back. Ever since them, Zeke has been hanging around, held by a need to solve his last case and his own murder. Apparently, Mac, unlike several previous owners of the house, found Zeke’s help quite valuable in solving modern cases. Rory isn’t sure how this ghost thing is going to work out, but she’s willing to give it a try. Especially if it can help her figure out how Uncle Mac really died.

This is the first in a new series, and it looks like it’s going to be a fun ride. Rory is quite believable as a not-quite-cop who feels the need to finish her uncle’s business. She’s part of a police department, but without investigative experience, she’s still very much an amateur sleuth. Her discovery of Uncle Mac’s Big Secret (Zeke) and her reaction are very realistic. As for Zeke, he’s very much the 19th century lawman dragged into the current century. Readers get to see him during his life via several flashbacks. By the end, neither of Zeke’s cases is resolved, but that feels right, too.

The villain of the piece isn’t too difficult to suss out, really. The flow of the narrative is quite good until the final scenes, in which the villain suddenly goes nutty as the big reveal. Those final scenes that complete the investigation into Gail’s death feel strangely different than the rest of the book. Maybe the author’s heart is really with Zeke and his problems. That’s ok with me, since I was always much more invested in his story than in Gail’s. Somehow, the author manages to make a ‘ghost stuck in the house’ story fresh and interesting. I liked Rory as an individual, and I like Rory and Zeke as partners in detection. I’m sure Zeke’s story arc will last for a few books, and I’m looking forward to all of it. I just hope he doesn’t disappear at the end.

Rating: 7 ½
August 2010
ISBN# 978-0-425-23604-8 (paperback)


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