Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lauren Carr's A Small Case of Murder Brilliant Mystery

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"J.J. tapped Murphy on the arm. “I guess we better start cleaning out that attic if we want to put our room up there.” 
"Before his sons could ascend the stairs to go up to the top floor, Joshua asked, “By the way, while we were gone this morning, did you find any skeletons up in that attic that I should know about?” 
"He knew the monumental task before them when he had consented to the twins rooming in the attic. From where she sat in the living room’s window seat looking out onto the rolling front lawn, 
"Tracy answered his question by handing him a stack of letters tied with the pink ribbon. “They seem to be letters your parents sent to each other while your dad was in the Navy.” 
"Joshua studied the writing on the envelopes. When it came to his parents, he had vague memories of a young couple very much in love. Tracy handed him the unopened envelope. “There’s one letter that  wasn’t opened. It’s from Virginia Avenue right here in Chester...”  
"He noticed the post date: May 8, 1970. Struck by the date, he dropped back into the recliner. He studied the handwriting on the envelope. J.J. noticed the color drain from his father’s face. 
“What’s wrong, Dad?” “This was mailed the same day my parents died.” Tracy caught her breath. “The same day they died? I’m sorry, Dad. I didn’t realize.” “That must be why the letter was never opened,” J.J. said... 
"Dear Claire, Tomorrow I’m leaving for Philadelphia. Would you believe I got a singing gig at a real club? Things are really looking up. Anyway, I tried to call you but Frieda told me that you and Johnny are on a second honeymoon in the Grand Canyon. You two must be serious about giving Josh a little sister. 
"Remember that dead body we found in the Bosley barn? How could you ever forget? His face is seared into my mind. Well, I saw him today in Reverend Rawlings’s office. I went there to talk to the reverend and Marge and Al about the music for their wedding, and there was his picture on the wall. It was a picture of Reverend Rawlings and Sheriff Delaney and some other guys in army uniforms. Reverend Rawlings said it was a picture of him and some of his buddies from the Korean War. That’s why Sheriff Delaney said we lied. Our body and them were all war buddies. It was him. I’m positive. Tell Johnny and see what he thinks. I tried to call Ricky Pendleton about it, but since he moved to Youngstown I don’t have his phone number. Maybe Johnny has it. I’m sure Johnny will be able to make sense out of all this. 
"Call you when I get back. Peace & Love, Lulu P.S. Good luck on that baby sister for Josh."
~~~

A Small Case of Murder
By Lauren Carr

I have previously shared info on Carr's Mac Farraday Mysteries which I loved, so I was surprised somewhat to go backwards to her Debut novel and find that her other series with Joshua Thornton is even better! Or, should I say different... Mac Farraday is funner...yeah, I know that's not a word, but it's what I want to say...

Perry Mason (TV series)
Perry Mason (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“We?” Joshua objected, There’s no ‘we’ here. 
I’m not saying I disagree with you. This 
evidence means that we’re dealing with a very
dangerous man here. I don’t want you kids
asking questions or stirring up trouble.”
He made his point by dropping the folder onto
the top of his desk and slapping the laptop
shut.
 “Ah, come on, Dad,” J.J. said. 
“You’ve investigated conspiracies and 
brought down serial killers. This is nothing
compared to that.” He held up his forefinger
and thumb to symbolize a miniscule
quantity. “For you, 
this is a small case of murder.”
~~~
Note: Actually, the title "could" be
considered a clue for readers...
This novel is one of the best mystery novels I've ever read--and that's a lot of 'em! The concept is brilliant, because you don't really know what is happening until you're well into the book. Joshua Thornton comes across like both your favorite private investigator as well as the superb lawyer that he actually is--Perry Mason and Paul Drake merged into one??? Get the picture? Because I want you to realize that if you are a reader that tries to solve the case as the evidence is presented, I can guarantee you that you will NOT have a chance! Yes, that's a challenge to all of you who believe you are good at solving mysteries..
.


Even when Carr gave us the most obvious clue--well I didn't even realize it... I kept popping around from one to another until, I sat, like the others in the room, as Joshua Thornton placed each piece of evidence together for his audience and all the pieces were tied together. Wow, ingenious story! Now, we don't get to know the characters as well in a mystery like this... This is NOT a cozy. It is pure puzzle presentation and solution and the characters exist to present facts. On the other hand, each of the characters had a specific reason for their lives in the book and I thought they were played well. Even as I got to some fairly close guesses, I never got close...so, what that means is that it is hard to provide too much information about this book less I give away relevant clues!

I might mention that this particular series has greatly evolved from this first book, perhaps responding to comments from readers. My guess is that the characters will be further developed, which will cause readers to become more involved... Still, for an intricately woven mystery, it would be hard to beat this one.

"When he turned around in his seat to hand the plate to the family in the pew behind him, he noticed a girl dressed in a skimpy shirt with baggy pants slung so low on her bony hips that it was a mystery as to how they kept from falling down to her ankles. Her poker-straight hair, bluntly cut at her jaw, was the color of a new copper penny. The girl dressed in black had come in at the back of the church and made her way down the aisle at the far side of the sanctuary. 
"The father of teenagers, Joshua thought he was incapable of being shocked by anything done in the name of fashion. He realized that his assumption was wrong when he laid his eyes on the girl making her way to the altar. Joshua saw under her midriff top the scales of a black snake tattoo draped across her stomach. The snake wrapped itself around her body, up her back, over her right shoulder, and across the front of her throat. The serpent’s head, his mouth open in mid-strike, rested on her left shoulder. 
"His concentration directed at the song he was playing on the keyboard, Tad didn’t notice her glassy gaze fixed on him. The girl with the snake caused a stir amongst the congregation. All eyes were fixed on the visitor. Was she going up to the pulpit to plead for the reverend to save her from the serpent that had taken control of her body? 
"Joshua saw beyond the body art to notice her hand in her shoulder bag as she moved in the direction of his cousin. A family consisting of three generations took up the pew between him and the girl with the snake. He didn’t have time to go around them. 
“Excuse me,” he said repeatedly while squeezing his way in front of the seven people blocking his path. The grandmother with a purple hat perched on top of her gray head sputtered when she lost her balance and landed on her rump in the pew. 
“Joshua Thornton, didn’t they teach you manners at that academy? I never.” He recalled when the elderly woman had once complained to his grandmother about him being “mouthy”. 
"The girl pulled her hand out of the bag to reveal a hand-gun. She aimed it at Tad. “She has a gun!” Tad took the pastor down onto the floor in a full body slam. 
"Joshua heard the roar of the congregation in his ears when he dove like a player racing for home plate. In midair, he caught her arm and thrust the gun towards the ceiling. When they hit the floor, the bullet discharged from the barrel and struck one of the hanging lamps to send a shower of glass down onto the congregation. The bullet flew upward until it planted itself into one of the oak panels high above them. "
                                                                                                                    ~~~

Joshua has just brought his family--five kids and a huge dog-- back to his home town. He's a recent widower and is still having trouble adjusting to being alone and a single parent, especially when they get into their new home and realize there's much to be done to adequately meet their needs...like at least two more bathrooms!

Quick to give his cousin, the town doctor, a mild reprimand about not telling him how bad a condition the house was in, Tad MacMillan chuckled as he told him that he didn't say anything because he wanted all that was left of the former doctor's records and the way to get them was to buy "as is..."

Tad is an interesting character diversion since he has a bad background of drinking and drugs and...women...He is now clean and has been accepted by the town as a responsible member of the community as well as doctor, but this novel actually begins with a body that was found, then lost, about 35 years ago, soon after Joshua's parents had been killed in an accident. Because of that, an old letter was discovered about the missing body...

Of course, the kids were gung-ho to try to solve this "cold case!" Actually, Joshua was too... He had retired from JAG to be able to spend more time with his family, but he was already finding it hard not to be involved with his routine work...

But the first incident that piqued Joshua's instincts was when a young woman walked into church, took aim at Tad and then tried to kill Joshua when he jumped her. The fact that Tad was being stalked and getting emails from Vicki, who turned out to be the granddaughter of a minister of another church, was icing on the cake! The minister in question was suspected of being a drug lord in the area--along with a number of other questionable actions. But nothing was ever proven. This had been going on since Joshua had once lived in town and he still remembered going to school with the man's son, who was now the town's prosecuting attorney.

But then Vicki was killed... And in the same room, they also found a woman with whom Joshua had once been involved... No matter what, Joshua was going to be involved! Finally, he was appointed as a special prosecutor for these murders...

Everybody was suspected! And Josh's kids had made new friends and they talked about the old body that had never been found...Yep! those kids went on their own...and yes, they did find it--but were almost put in jail! LOL

What they found on that body really set the investigation into gear...

Lots more happens in the book and I was following every word as I finished the novel, happy to have every answer I needed provided by the author. In fact, I loved how it was ended--that is, for that "small" case that only a puzzle lover could solve. Joshua Thornton is a formidable opponent of any criminal. After this one, I'm not sure future cases will even come near--but I hope I get the chance to find out...Some great books from Lauren Carr since this one! Soooo many books; sooooo little time, folks! Mystery Lovers Alert for this one!


GABixlerReviews

Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award. A Reunion to Die For was released in hardback in June 2007. Both of these books are in re-release.

Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in her series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The next book in this series, Shades of Murder, was released May 2012.

Lauren’s sixth book, Dead on Ice, will be released in Fall 2012. Dead on Ice will introduce a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, in which Joshua Thornton will join forces with homicide detective Cameron Gates.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This spring, two books written by independent authors was released through the management of Acorn Book Services.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes. If you would like Lauren to speak to your group or at your conference, please feel free to contact her.

She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:
Acorn Book Services Website:http://acornbookservices.com/

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