Mitch O’Reilly is a private investigator barely making ends meet. When an attorney he knows hires him to find out information and prove her client, Ernesto, is innocent, he takes the case. A famous Hollywood sitcom writer was murdered in a bathhouse and Ernesto is the prime suspect. As Mitch starts looking into things, he finds even more suspects.
Several men who were at the bathhouse that night seem to have motives. Secrets, lies, and misdirection are all over the place. For each truth Mitch uncovers, more questions and lies take its place. When there’s another murder, and then a third, not to mention a threat on Mitch’s sister, it seems it’s too hot for Mitch to keep investigating. But he’s so close to discovering who the murderer is, he can’t back off. But will solving the case end his life?
I love crime stories and the blurb for this one was definitely intriguing. Shreve is a new-to-me author, and I’m always looking for a good murder mystery with a healthy dose of romance thrown in. However, there were some major points against this story, and it made it difficult to enjoy at times.
I liked Mitch a lot. He was tenacious without being too overbearing. At least most of the time. And he has a strong moral compass to do what is right. On the whole, he was likeable, and even charming at times. So he was a good narrator for the tale.
The mystery itself wasn’t too complicated, and I thought the author did a reasonable job planting clues to move the story along. I will also say that while I suspected who had done the murders, the culprit wasn’t my only suspect, which was refreshing. A lot of times, it’s easy to see who the killer is right off the bat. So I appreciated that I was unsure until close to the end, and that everything fit well together.
I wouldn’t necessarily call this a romance, but that wasn’t a deal breaker for me. It definitely had romantic elements between Mitch and another character, but it was just a start of things that ending on a shaky HFN. Since this is the first book of a series, I do expect that to continue to grow throughout the following books, so though it was hardly the focus of the book, I think it worked for what it was.
However, I did have some major issues with the style of writing, and that brought down my enjoyment of the book quite a bit. There was a lot of dialogue in this book. And I mean a lot. At times, it seemed like it was all talk, and I wanted to see a bit more action. I wanted to be shown what was going on, and the long passages of conversation where all the pertinent details were relived got a bit wearying for me after a while.
The story also seemed a bit disjointed. While the characters were unique and each one served a purpose, the story itself didn’t go smoothly. The characters seemed to share too much, or move on quickly when information was revealed. The little action that was there was also too quick, and it bounced from one thing to the next. This made for a less than satisfactory read, as I was just settling into a plot point before we were jumping to the next thing. It didn’t work that well for me, and I was looking for more exploration and expansion.
So while there were definitely merits to this book, on the whole, it didn’t work that well for me. The characters worked, as did the resolution, but I found the author’s voice not really to my liking. I’d only tentatively recommend this book to hardcore whodunit fans looking for a read that may surprise them with the reveal.