3 out of 4 stars
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Murder in Memory, by Mike Thorne, is a down-home murder mystery with a unique psychological twist.
Harper is a small Southern college town where nothing much out of the ordinary happens. That is, until students begin being murdered. Police Chief Grady Noland searches for the killer, but will he find the right person – even by the end of the book? Heather Conley is killed on campus, and everyone becomes a suspect. But what that really means is that there is no primary suspect. Chief Noland conducts interviews and plays politics with the mayor, not knowing that one of the people he has turned to for help is the killer himself.
There are many things to like about Murder in Memory. The book is very well-edited, and I found only a couple of errors. The beginning is fast-paced and interesting, quickly engaging the reader in the plot. I like that the author introduces the timeframe in the prologue, letting the reader know that the book is set before DNA testing and cell phones. We think much differently now with the availability of crime labs and camera phones. This detail plays into the plot more than once, which makes for some anxious moments.
Another positive aspect of the book is that the author uses many nice touches regarding small-town Southern life. I’m unsure if the town of Harper was named for Harper Lee, but I took it as a homage and smiled every time I read the name. The author describes it as a normal small town that has a church on every corner and a lack of downtown businesses because of a new Walmart. He also includes details that make the characters seem more realistic. For example, Thorne describes how one character gets a lot of return address labels because he once gave to a charity and got added to everyone else’s contact list. (Does that sound familiar to anyone?)
Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a 4-star book, so I am giving it 3 out of 4 stars. The plot was clever, but it wasn’t as polished as a 4-star book should be. It wasn’t a page-turner, and I found myself having to make myself pick it up about half-way through. Additionally, the characters weren’t as rounded and unique as they could have been. I found myself having to look back to see which name went with which character because they were described so similarly. It is considerably better than a 2-star book, though, because I would recommend it to people looking for a good murder mystery. If you are looking for a touch of romance or an action-packed book, this one isn’t for you. Prospective readers should also be aware that this book contains frequent depictions of sex, sexual language, and sexual violence.
Murder in Memory
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