Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kindred Crimes by Janet Dawson. My choice for September

The Friends of the Library Mystery Readers Group in Visalia decided to choose a new-to-you mystery for September, which meant the members could pick a new book by a favorite author, or a book by a new-to-you author.

I chose Kindred Crimes, Janet Dawson’s debut mystery. Kindred Crimes was nominated for Shamus, Anthony and Macavity Awards in 1991 and won St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America contest.

A simple missing person case turns out to be more complicated than San Francisco P.I., Jeri Howard, ever thought it would be. Jeri is hired by Richard Foster to find his missing wife, Renee. The woman left their son with his mother and disappeared. During the first few days of searching, Jeri learns that Renee isn’t the woman’s real name, but when she reports that to Richard, he fires her. Normally, that would be the end of it. Not for Jeri. She doesn’t like being fired and she doesn’t like leaving a case unfinished. It’s evident that Richard’s parents are pulling the strings, that they hate the missing woman, and believe she’s guilty of child abuse. Is it true? Jeri is all the more determined to find her.

Thus begins this fast paced mystery, leading the reader from one page to the next like a chicken following a line of corn kernels. Using the missing woman’s real name, Jeri probes into Renee’s family background and learns that years earlier the missing woman’s brother murdered their parents. He plead guilty and went to jail without any explanation.

Before long Jeri has located other family members and one of them, the aunt who raised Renee, hires Jeri to find her. The trail of bread crumbs (or corn kernels) leads to the brother, now out of jail, and a troubled younger sister, who seems to hold the key to the unfortunate family saga. Along the way, Jeri uncovers a blackmail scheme; gets beat up by a couple of thugs, and is shot at by a killer. When push comes to shove, Jeri Howard is a pretty tough lady and can handle herself well.

Even though I guessed the core of the mystery early on, I enjoyed this book because of the fast moving pace and the characters. In fact, I’ve already loaded the next in the series to my Kindle.

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