Reporter Joe Gale goes to an old textile mill to cover an ordinary story of its redevelopment and ends up witnessing the discovery of a skeleton when the builders knock down one of the mill’s brick walls.
After a bit of digging himself, Joe learns that in 1968 a great deal of money was embezzled from the mill at the same time as one of the mill’s finance employees, George Desmond, went missing. Now, however, it’s clear that Desmond was not the embezzler and someone has got away with murder.
Joe also finds out his mentor, journalist Paulie Finnegan who has since passed away, worked on the case, making Joe determined to uncover the truth.
The book is written in Joe’s first person point of view for most of the time. There are some flashbacks scenes giving Paulie’s point of view. Even though they are time stamped so as not to create confusion, I did think the Paulie chapters were out of place and didn’t add to the story at all. I would have rathered Paulie’s story was simply told via the man’s journals Joe found in his attic.
Perhaps the flashbacks gave away just that too much because I found the whodunnit plot a little predictable. I guessed most of the it well before the halfway mark of the book, and wasn’t proven incorrect.
I did like the climactic scenes. Buchanan built the tension quite nicely and her ‘car chase’ had a nice twist to it.
The was a bit of an unnecessary information dump in the final chapter, but Buchanan certainly won’t be the first or last author guilty of that one. She did do a good job of making the first person point of view go along smoothly, and there’s lots of descriptive prose and not just navel gazing from Joe.
Maine wasn’t particularly important to the story and I think the book would have worked just as well if set somewhere else. In fact, I’ve read so many books of late with beautiful exotic locations, this one being so ‘normal’ was a shock.
Joe and Paulie were nice enough, but they were so alike. Differing personalities would have made Paulie worked more for me. I again think he was unnecessary.
There’s no romance in the book for Joe. I think we’re supposed to be cheering on Joe’s single mother friend, Christie, but I found her a bit bland and hopefully she will get more scenes/improve in future books (this will be the first in a series of Joe Gale mysteries). I was much more interested in Police Chief Wyatt and I’d relish more scenes featuring her.
I also enjoyed most of the older characters who were the various witnesses and suspects from 1968. I never took to Joe’s newspaper colleagues though. If they are to become ‘regulars’, I think Buchanan will need to work on them.
Despite these few minor gripes, I enjoyed Buchanan’s style and the book overall. And I will definitely be on the look out for the sequel when it’s published.
I’d recommend it to anyone who wants an enjoyable mystery without the sometimes obligatory gore.
3 ½ stars out of 5.