3 out of 4 stars
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Mark Sinara calls himself "The Hangman", but that's not because he's an executioner. His business is to remove and hang wallpaper. In this story, he finds some intriguing things under old wallpaper he has pulled, starting with a hand-drawn picture done by a previous worker, Artist George. It includes a note relating the drawing to a beauty queen's disappearance that happened years earlier, and was never solved. Mark and friends decide to do some investigation on their own, and share the results with the police. Of course that isn't an easy thing to do, but answers can be found if you have curiosity, good intentions, and teamwork.
Mr. Burbank did a lot of things right when he wrote this novel. The plot is organized well. The story includes all the details a reader would want to know. There isn't extraneous information. Mark and his friends find the answers to their questions. Some are relevant to the mystery and some are not, but if they are not, they demonstrate how a character's thought process can go wrong.
The characters are also well done. Mark, the Hangman, tells the story. He is a humorous guy, both when he's having discussions with friends and foes, and when he's describing mysterious or personal circumstances. But he doesn't over-do it, or use humor when it's inappropriate. Other characters include Mark's girlfriend, Deb, who likes to control situations; the Rosters, a family that hires Mark to do a lot of wallpaper replacement and has a connection with Suzette, the missing beauty queen; and Peter Foley, the detective who tried to determine what happened to Suzette.
There were a few things in the book that I would have expected to be fixed as a result of proofreading. For example, in some instances the Roster family was called the Roster's, not the Rosters--in other words, it was possessive, not plural. The names of some things were italicized, which isn't necessary for restaurants or businesses. While these are not highly serious issues, I found them a bit disappointing considering how well-written the novel was in general.
Last but not least, I'd like to mention something about the end of the story. It isn't unusual for a book to have an epilogue, but I'm not sure I've ever read one quite like this. I don't want to give away any secrets, but it was entertaining, enjoyable, and included some final explanations about what had happened to various characters.
I'm rating this book at 3 out of 4 stars. It is well organized and entertaining, and I recommend it to readers who like crime and mystery.
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