Sunday, March 29, 2015

What the Fly Saw by Frankie Y. Bailey Presents Unsolvable Mystery Even If The Fly Was There...

Who killed Cock Robin?
I, said the Sparrow
With my bow and arrow
I killed Cock Robin.

Who saw him die?
I, said the Fly
With my little eye
I saw him die.
--"The Death and Burial of Cock robin"
"Just got some news," Dole said. "Lisa Nichols was found dead in her room at the psychiatric facility."
"Lisa Nichols?" McCabe said, "How could she be dead?"
"Suicide. Apparently she was stockpiling her medication or gained access to medication."
"How could she gain access to medication?" Baxter said. "Don't they keep their pills locked up?"
"However she did it," Dole said, "she's dead."
McCabe's gaze met Baxter's. They had worked their butts off on the serial killer case...
"The skeleton's name is 'Ernie,'
Malone said. "According to the
embalmer, Ernie usually stands
right here by the table..."
"So the vic pulled our friend Ernie
down with him as he was falling...
The funeral director's name was Kevin Novak. His body was in the basement.
McCabe paused in mid-strike. "Hi Rachel,"...He was like this when he was found?"
"According to the embalmer who found him," Rachel Malone said...
McCabe squatted down for a better look at the entangled limbs of the funeral director, who had an arrow protruding from his chest, and the human skeleton he was clutching. The skeleton grinned up at them...
"Jeff, can you walk us through this?"
"Sure." He pointed toward the other end of the room where a target was set up. "The vic was down there by the target when he was apparently--lab results pending--shot with this bow." He indicated the green-and-brown camouflaged bow on the floor not far from the victim's body..."So, he's shot with an arrow and dying and instead of trying to get to his ORB to get help," McCabe said, "he goes to the sink and pours something out?"
"We haven't found his ORB...

What the Fly Saw
By Frankie Y. Bailey

I don't care what you say about what that Fly saw! He was not telling anybody else! I know, because even though he's been buzzing around, I didn't have a clue about whodunit!

Of course, you know what that means! I loved the book! Bailey started this series with The Red Queen Dies (click on the title to read my review before you leave.) This one opens some issues that will allow readers to look forward to more in future books...

I gather because the author sets the novel into a parallel universe, it becomes part sci-fi. Seriously, this is one of the best mysteries I've read and having a little fun with technological scifi just doesn't make it less... I enjoyed the imaginative additions but found little to actually consider the setting as other than earth...some time when a fly can be easily buzzing and annoying all of us... even if the author finds them fascinating... Of course, it's the big black flies that fly in my area, but I don't think having red eyes would change my opinion...LOL

Soooo, anyway, McCabe is not quite ready to close out her case against Lisa Nichols, even though she has apparently committed suicide and the case has been officially closed...

Especially when the very next case assigned to her is the assumed murder of Kevin Novak, a funeral director. The funeral director, in fact, who had received a call from the office of Lisa's former lover, about arranging her funeral...

Kevin Novak, as a funeral director, was well respected in the community and was dedicated to his family and church. Naturally they were the first people to be interviewed.  The last event he had attended was for Olive's celebration of life. She was 85 but, fully intending to enjoy her last large appearance, had thrown her own party.

Olive's sharp gaze fastened on Kevin. "And since
you already know you're going to get to bury me
when I'm dead, you can relax and enjoy the party."
"I always enjoy your parties, Olive," Kevin said.
"Come with me," she said. "There's someone
I want you to meet."
"How have you been?" she asked him.
"Fine," Kevin said. "Never better."
"Don't give me that. Anyone who knows you
can tell you're still taking Bob's death hard."
Having your best friend collapse with a heart
attack while you're beating him at tennis, and
then die on the operating table, can have that
effect. It's been over four months since it
happened. You should be coping with it by now."
"I am coping with it."
"You're still off-kilter. Not your usual self.
That's why I want you to meet Luanne
"Luanne? That medium or spiritualist of
whatever she calls herself that you found
somewhere?...I don't believe in that hocus-pocus."
"I don't believe in most of it, either...But, as I
said, Luanne's interesting. I invited her today
so you could meet her."
"And so what?" he said in belated response to
Olive. "Sign up for her next seance?"
"That might not be a bad idea. Spiritual
therapy, so to speak."
"I get my spiritual therapy at church on
Sunday from our inister. You might
consider doing the same."
"At my age, I take what I need from
wherever I happen to find it. And the fact
you're going all righteous on me instead of
laughing about my eccentricities, as you
like to call them, proves you're off-kilter.
We need to get you put to right."
Besides the one fly who had hidden on the
ceiling, ...Olive's guest list for this celebration
of her life reflected her eccentricities. An
odd assortment of guests: old friends,
relatives, church members and business
associates, and other people who tickled
Olive's fancy or touched her big heart. But
they had all cleaned up and put on their
best in Olive's honor...

When they finally found Luanne...the fly watched closely...
"Luanne," Olive said to the plump, blond woman sipping
from a champagne glass as she observed the people around
her. "I'd like you to meet Kevin Novak, the friend of mine
I was telling you about."
"I'm so happy to meet you, Mr. Novak," she said in a
southern drawl that suited her pleasant, round face. Her
blue gaze met and held his.
If he believed in such things, Kevin would have sworn
she'd looked past his tailored suit and crisp white shirt
straight into his tarnished soul. He took a step back, and
reached out to steady Olive, who hand rested on his arm.
"Sorry, Olive," he said. "I just remembered something
I need to do."
Luanne Woodward said, "It's all right, Kevin, honey.
You don't have to run away from me."
But he did, Kevin thought. He had to run as fast as he

And before long, the weather had snowed everybody in and placed many places into a state of emergency. Kevin left that night, however. Even with his wife begging him to stay inside, he had felt somebody should always stay when they had bodies in the morgue...besides the fly who watched what happened...

His assistant, the embalmer, found him the next morning, killed by bow and arrow... Have to say this was a first murder investigation by bow for me--and it turned out that many individuals within the church, which hosted two different archery clubs--had to be interviewed.

Once in a while, the book throws in a flashback into what was happening with Lisa Nichols, who was now in a psychiatric facility awaiting trial. She was upset with herself--a slip of the tongue because she was angry. The rest were gone, if she had gotten rid of Detective Hannah McCabe, everything would have been fine. Her fiancee, Ted Thornton, was bewitched with her and had hired lawyers who might even get her off... That was before a disruption at the facility allowed a nurse to slip her a note... The fly watched what happened soon after...

She had gotten out of the hospital...dead... The case for her victims was closed. Nobody would pay for the three she had murdered...

And then the two cases merged in a single way... They discovered that Ted Thornton's assistant had placed a phone call to Kevin Novak. It was obvious to everybody that Thornton was handling her funeral... and had Novak contacted for this reason...

Sarah Novak and her two children were first to be
involved in the investigation, of course. Novak was shocked and not quite coherent that first time. Her pastor and a church counselor were both there with her.  Wyatt was leader of a very large church and had refused to share about any discussions he'd had with Novak. So, too, was Jonathan Burdett, who, as a psychiatrist, was also treating Novak. Admittedly, McCabe was having trouble understanding why a psychiatrist was on staff within the church, who was, of course, quoting privilege of confidentiality regarding his time with Novak...

Mostly normal people who just happened to be attending one large church, right? NOT! Lots of secrets and unwillingness to share with the police... And McCabe wasn't even sure of her own partner who seemed to be secretive at times...

Just as I loved Taraji Henson, in one of my favorite TV programs, Person of Interest, I easily slid her into the role of McCabe in Frankie Bailey's series! She's wonderful! McCabe is just as wonderful as a series main character! If you haven't started this series yet, I highly recommend you do so! It's strong on police procedure, high in mystery and, especially, suspense! Bailey presents us with a solid page-turner that even, this time, forced me to wait until she revealed the fascinating final climax to know exactly who did what to whom...and why! Which is just as important as the who. This time you'll have so many possibilities, with motive, it's almost pick-and-choose. Enjoy! I know you will!
And don't even think to expect a hint from that damn Fly!

A Mystery Fan Must-Read in my opinion...


Frankie Y. Bailey is a criminal justice professor at UAlbany (SUNY). She is the author, co-author, or co-editor of a number of non-fiction books. She is the 2010 recipient of the George N. Dove Award for her research on mystery and crime fiction. She has been nominated for several other awards, including the Edgar, Agatha, and Anthony, and is the winner of a Macavity Award for African American Mystery Writers (2008). She has five books and two published short stories in a mystery series featuring crime historian Lizzie Stuart. One of the short stories (“In Her Fashion”) was published in the July 2014 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. The Red Queen Dies (Minotaur Books, September 2013) was the first book in a near-future police procedural series featuring Detective Hannah McCabe. The second book in the series, What the Fly Saw is due out in March 2015. Frankie is a former Executive Vice President of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime.

For additional information about Frankie’s scholarly research and writing, please see her curriculum vitae on the University at Albany, School of Criminal Justice website.

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