3 out of 4 stars
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Mary Jane Morris is a private investigator. She was ready to celebrate Halloween with her roommate Sally when she received a call from her ex-partner, David ‘Davy’ McHale. Mary Jane sensed, at once, that something was wrong and rushed to his place, but by the time she reached there, it was too late. A gun in his hand, a glass of whiskey by his side and his head blown off- that’s how she found him. At first, it looked like a suicide by a depressed man. But soon, things took an unexpected turn and threw Mary Jane right in the middle of a devious conspiracy related to the Veterans Administration. Up against some of the most powerful people in Washington DC, she has to find Davy’s murderer and expose the conspirators. All the while, she has to protect herself from the people who will do anything to stop her.
Written from the point of view of Mary Jane Morris, Veterans Day by J. J. Jorgens is a sensational crime thriller. Exploring the theme of prevalent corruption in the government agencies, it brings together a lot of elements that are pretty relevant in today’s world. It also sheds light on prevalent sexism in various professions. The instances where Mary Jane is not taken seriously by the FBI and the Department of Justice represent the treatment of women in a male-dominated world.
People who enjoy a good murder mystery should definitely read this. It is fast paced and doesn’t take time to throw its characters, and the readers, right in the middle of the action. It has some pretty exciting action sequences and espionage scenes. The author is inspired by detectives like Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, all of whom find a mention in this book, generally in the form of Mary Jane’s conscience.
One of the best things about this novel is its writing style. It is casual and witty, like a friend telling you about an interesting day at work. It has Mary Jane’s humor sprinkled all over, with some clever punch lines and intelligent sarcasm. It is precise, like its lead character, and carefully moves forward without missing or overdoing any detail. It also provides a little trivia about the actual places that feature in the novel. People interested in the history of Washington DC will appreciate that.
Mary Jane and all other characters seem realistic and sorted out. None of them seem too idealistic or above the top. Every one of them acts like normal people would, under the given circumstances. Their background histories are well-presented and their growth is not stunted to keep in line with the story. We see some good character developments towards the end.
For all its good qualities, this could have been a perfect novel. However, it is not. In a few places, I felt like the comma was missing. I don’t mean to be a snob, but sometimes these things alter the meaning of a sentence and break the flow of reading. There were also some other minor grammatical mistakes. Another thing that bothered me was the occasional inconsistency of the plot. When the writer wanted Mary Jane to have a break, he would send her on a holiday, or an errand, that sometimes felt unrelated to the plot. The story loses its grip in such places and seems to become lousy, for a while.
This novel has a spot-on ending. I was glad that the writer chose not to take a clichéd road, as usually happens in the case of crime genre. What made it more acceptable was the realistic approach towards things. You’ll find yourself in agreement with the climax. My rating for this book is 3 out of 4 stars. A 3.5 would have done better justice to this Mary Jane Morris mystery. If it was a little bit better than it is now, it would have been in league with the best ones out there. But, it settled at next to best, and that’s okay. I still loved it.
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