4 out of 4 stars
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Enough Rope by P.L. Doss is an enthralling murder mystery set in Atlanta. Let me start by saying that it is an exceptional debut that becomes more and more complex as the evidence builds and the tale unfolds. The story is written in the third person perspective and alternates between high-profile Atlanta attorney Tom Halloran and Hollis Joplin, the medical examiner's investigator.
During his early-morning jog, Tom Halloran finds the body of his friend and colleague, Elliot Carter, hanging from a tree in Piedmont Park. All signs point to it being an autoerotic death. When Hollis Joplin, the medical examiner's investigator, is called to the lurid scene, he declares it an accidental death caused by a deviant practice called autoerotic asphyxia. Halloran insists Elliot was murdered, but Hollis Joplin is skeptical as such act is difficult to fake. Still, he starts looking for evidence of foul play. Halloran isn't satisfied with the police assumption of an accidental death and starts nosing around on his own, sharing his findings with the investigator. When the PI who was hired by Elliot’s estranged wife to get the goods on Elliot suddenly disappears, Halloran and Joplin are plunged into a whirlpool of intrigue, suspense, and danger.
The plot thickens as porn photographs involving a missing kid suddenly pop up, muddying the waters even further. The presence of the photographs becomes a vital clue, as does the background of each of the characters involved. There are suspects galore and a sufficiently intricate plot with yet additional deaths. It is up to Joplin and his sidekick Tom to puzzle all the pieces together and unlock the mystery of the three deaths. Meanwhile, a murderer is running loose, or is he??
I enjoyed the book immensely. There's nothing I like more than a good whodunit, and this one fit the bill perfectly with mysterious deaths, intrigue, family secrets, and red herrings aplenty to keep the pages turning. The author has seamlessly woven themes of fallible human nature, deceit, greed, betrayal, and family secrets. Another theme that runs through the book is that no matter "how well you think you know a person, you don’t know them all that well."
The narrative keeps you in suspense until the very end. It isn't the edge-of-your-seat suspense, but the suspense is nicely maintained until the explosive conclusion. The author throws a curve ball at us right and left and I would never have suspected the killer. Every time I thought I have got it figured out, another piece of the puzzle came along and changed the whole picture.
The pacing was a bit off in the middle, but not enough to lose my interest. The detailed medical observations and different theories thrown around were interesting, but they slowed the plot at times. There were only a couple of typos, but nothing large enough to take away from the story itself.
The characters are wonderfully drawn, especially Halloran and Hollis, but the minor members of the cast are also well characterized. There is no sense of urgency till half way through, but it was interesting all the same. The reader is slowly pulled into the story until immersed in the mystifying details and unable to stop turning the pages.
The novel more than lived up to all my expectations, therefore I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. Although I have read lots of thrillers over the years, this one was different as it I have never read a plot involving an autoerotic death. The author has masterfully woven together a well-crafted tale. I loved the book, and I eagerly wait for the 2nd book in the series. Definitely recommended for fans of the genre, but don't expect a fast-paced thriller. Just allow the story to develop slowly and creep up on you, and it will be worth the wait!
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