Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sketch A Falling Star - Sharon Pape

Sketch A Falling Star 
A Portrait Of Crime Mystery
Sharon Pape
Berkley Prime Crime

Rory McCain has an unusual partner in her PI business: Zeke Drummond, once a Federal Marshall, now a ghost.  She inherited her uncle’s home and the spirit that dwells there.  Rory and Zeke have fashioned a working relationship, and Rory has promised to try to discover who killed Zeke more than a century ago.  To that end, she’s taking a trip out to Arizona, where Zeke’s final case began.  Of course, there’s no way she can explain the real reason for her trip.  So, when her Aunt Helene decides to plan the whole thing to coincide with a group outing for her community theater group, Rory just gins and goes with it.
While Rory is looking for anything to do with Zeke, Helene and the Way Off Broadway Players take a tour.  During the trip to a slot canyon, there’s a flash flood.  Aunt Helene is fine, but one of the players, Preston Wright dies in the flood.  Rory quickly finds out that ‘Preston’ was an alias. He was a con man and all-around bad guy, but his mother still wants Rory to investigate the death.  She has no illusions regarding her son’s character (or lack thereof) and the local police have closed the case as accidental, but she needs to know what really happened. 
This is the third in a series, following SKETCH ME IF YOUCAN and TO SKETCH A THIEF, and if you’ve missed the first two, you’ll be fine here.  The author provides plenty of background to get new readers up to speed.  If you’ve been reading from the start, you’ll want to know that the identity of Zeke’s killer is finally revealed in this installment.  Sadly, the sections of the book detailing Zeke’s last case – a real highlight of previous books – are sparse here and seem like an afterthought compared to previous outings.
The mystery itself seems to get off to quite a slow start, and it’s hard to care a lot about the fate of a guy who, by his own mother’s admission, was a psychopath.  On the bright side, since he was such a jerk to everyone, there are plenty of motives: broken affairs, investment scams, blackmail.  There’s an interesting addition to the case in the person of Eloise, an older neighbor whose recent stroke has given her a kind of second sight.  In the end, it’s Zeke who solves the case for Rory.  I guess that’s only fair, though, since she solved his murder for him.
Rating: 6 ½
March 2012
ISBN# 978-0-425-24669-8 (paperback)


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