Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jenn's Review: Murder on the Mind

Summary:  Jeff Resnick hardly knew his well-heeled half-brother. But after suffering a fractured skull in a vicious mugging, he reluctantly accepts the fact that he has a long and brutal recovery to face—and his closest of kin can provide him with the time and place to do it. 

Now, Jeff is haunted by unexplained visions of a heinous crime—a banker, stalked, killed, and eviscerated like a ten-point buck. When Matt Sumner’s murder is discovered, a still-recovering Jeff realizes this was what he had seen. Jeff must not only convince himself of his new-found psychic ability, but also his skeptical brother Richard Alpert. Since Sumner was Richard’s banker, both brothers have a stake in finding out what happened. With Richard’s reluctant help, Jeff’s investigation leads him to Sumner’s belligerent family and hard-nosed business associates, none of whom want him snooping around. 

When Jeff discovers a second victim, he knows he must relentlessly chase his quarry even if it means risking his brother’s life.

Review:  There aren't a lot of books set in my home town of Buffalo, NY so I was terribly excited when the ladies The Cozy Chicks for bringing brought it to my attention. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I was hoping it wasn't going to portray Buffalo in a bad light. This is a touchy issue for me, as I'm a proud Buffalonian.  We get enough bad press on our own (sports, economy, snow, etc.).

It was actually kind of strange reading about a fictional killer in my own town. There were fictional places juxtaposed on real places, making it kind of jarring for me to read. However, if you aren't overly familiar with the Buffalo area, I'm sure it wouldn't disturb you in the slightest. Both Jeff and Richard have just moved back to the Queen City for different reasons and both of them have bitter memories of their different but equally difficult childhoods in Buffalo. Neither of them is thrilled to be back, but they slowly learn that Buffalo isn't as bad as they remember (I loved Brenda's line, "Richard, you never told me there's a ton of great stuff to do in Buffalo."). While Jeff and Richard are relearning the city, they are also trying to reconnect with each other.  But it's hard to get beyond their childhood grudges when Jeff's insistent that his head injuries have caused him to start having psychic visions ...and those visions are pulling all of them into the middle of a murder investigation.

L. L. Bartlett wastes no time jumping into the mystery of it all. It caught me a little off guard. The mystery is interesting. The reader is not tasked by trying to figure out the culprit but by how Jeff will prove his visions, thus proving to his half-brother he's not crazy and catching a murderer. I'm not sure it was entirely plausible that Jeff wasn't arrested on several occasions for obstruction of justice at least, but it was easily forgiven because the story was intriguing. Little by little we learn what drove the brothers apart. Richard takes a leap of faith, Jeff learns to trust and let go. And the reader learns what motivates a murderer.

In a way, this is sort of the male counterpart to Heather Webber's Lucy Valentine series, which I adore. Although the lack of plot exposition at the beginning was surprising, I enjoyed the way Ms. Barrett wove it into the story instead. Some family secrets are revealed, and I'm sure there are more to come. I found all of Ms. Bartlett's characters fascinating and I want to get to know them a little better.  I'm particularly curious about Sophie, a minor character that floats in and out of Jeff's new found life as an investigating psychic. I can't wait to see where each of the characters decides to go from here, as they all seem to have a grasp on what they want out of life ...for now.

This will be a fun, light mystery series for me, I think, especially once I get used to reading about my home town.  I look forward to starting book two of the Jeff Resnick series, Dead In Red.  In fact I'm moving it closer to the top of my TBR pile right now.

Final Take:  3.75/5

PS.  I love that L. L. Bartlett's website features a photo section of some of the Buffalo-type things she mentions.



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