K.C. Wells has taken a departure from her normal writing style to offer up a mystery entitled, Truth Will Out. This is a solid, detective-style novel that will leave most guessing as to who is committing all the murders in the quaint village of Merrychurch. The wealthy benefactor of the town, Dominic de Mountford, is found dead in his study and initially thought to have fallen and struck his head. However, after closer examination, it becomes apparent that he has been pushed and the scene has been altered to make it appear as though it was an accident. His nephew, Jonathon, found the body after making his way from the train station where his uncle was to have met him. Instead, the local pub owner (and former policeman), Mike Tattersall, offers him a lift and is there when the tragedy is discovered.
Jonathon’s own father, a high profile barrister in London, wastes no time in calling in a favor and before long a rather blustering, angry Scotland Yard detective arrives to take control of the crime scene. It doesn’t help that said copper is not a big fan of Mike’s as it was Mike who was promoted over the man before an injury forced Mike into early retirement from the force. Now, Jonathon and Mike undertake some sleuthing of their own to try and discover just who has motive for murder and far too many skeletons come out of his Uncle Dominic’s closet along the way. When a second body turns up, Mike and Jonathon realize that they are dealing with someone intent on making sure no one ever discovers the truth.
Truth Will Out was an entertaining story. I felt that the plot was fairly tight and unfolded neatly, leaving one with more questions than answers just as a good mystery should. I really enjoyed Mike, who had suffered a fairly catastrophic accident leaving him physically impaired and unable to continue the police work he loved, yet he was still confident and happy. That is rare in novels these days where so often such a loss would have left the person shattered and therefore made them either angry or reclusive. But Mike was the opposite and it was his positive outlook that drew Jonathon to him. Yes, there was a romance element to the novel, but it was fairly muted—I am hoping since the author indicated this is a first in a series we will get to see their relationship grow and become more of a focal element in the next installment.
However, the thrust of this novel was more on the aspect of solving the case and that was done quite well. With multiple suspects constantly cropping up and secrets of Dominic’s life being systematically revealed, I found the way Jonathon went after the truth kept me engaged in the story fully. I must admit to wanting a bit more action when the murderer was finally revealed—I felt the ending was a bit of a letdown in that the suspect pretty much accepted he had been discovered and really made no attempt to escape. It was as if the author pulled from the Poirot reference her main character made about himself earlier in the novel and had the reveal play out similarly to how that great mythical detective often solved his cases—with more discussion than action. Still, the lead up to that point was really quite compelling. With plenty of twists and turns and the growing attraction between Mike and Jonathon, the author very neatly created a perfect pastoral setting that could muster up a crime or two every so often.
The side plot with Jonathon now having to decide whether he would become the Lord of the manor and possibly give up his successful career in photography was interwoven quite well into the story. Jonathon had a lot of reservations about assuming the mantle his father was bullying him into taking as soon as his uncle was discovered dead. Not only did it mean Jonathon would have to live in the village full time, but the fact that he was gay and prospects for being out and proud in the little village seemed limited made the thought of putting down roots there far from ideal. It certainly helped that Mike was there to provide both emotional support and be a potential love interest as well.
Truth Will Out is a rather quintessential British mystery complete with mounting numbers of murders, a village that seems so tranquil but holds its dark secrets close to the cuff, and a wealthy landowner who is also has a penchant for sleuthing. I look forward to more adventures in Merrychurch.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.