4 out of 4 stars
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Over My Dead Body by Saul Warshaw is the first title in a series of mystery stories following Will Jonas, a retired police detective who now works as a private investigator. With the help of investigative instincts honed by years of experience, as well as his various police connections, he does his best to piece together whatever cases his clients bring to him, ranging from a fifty-year-old murder to simply finding their long-lost family. The copy I received was a compilation containing the first three stories in the series, titled Three Will Jonas Mysteries, so this review will focus on the compilation as a whole.
Right away, I was struck by how character-driven these stories were. They're told from Will's perspective, and his somewhat gruff, very guarded character comes through on every page. I especially enjoyed the contrast between the carefully constructed cover stories he gave people involved in an investigation and the true feelings he revealed to his family.
I felt that this book's writing style was quite good, too. It uses very short chapters, which feels choppy in other books, but it works very well in this case. They're usually separated according to the different people that Will speaks with throughout the course of his investigation. At times, his discussions with various parties do seem a bit more like a series of interviews than a true investigation, but the characters themselves are crafted so well that I didn't really mind. I only found a few minor grammatical errors, too.
My biggest issue with this book is its narrative organization. Each story cuts off too close to the climax, and none of them have enough of a conclusion to provide readers with proper closure. Also, I found it very strange that the stories seemed to be told in reverse chronological order. At one point, someone references details about a case Will solved in the past, spoiling some parts of the next book that tells the story of that case. This might have been a stylistic choice, but it's one I disagree with; watching each story play out chronologically would have made much more sense.
Despite the otherwise excellent execution, in light of these flaws, I would give this compilation 3.5 out of 4 stars if I could. In the end, though, I enjoyed it enough that I think it deserves 4 out of 4 stars. If you enjoy murder mysteries or books about private investigators, it's certainly worth checking out, though it does have some mature content and language that you might need to look out for.
Over My Dead Body
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