Death by Romance, by Anne Kennison, is a clever whodunit that’ll keep you turning the pages frantically to uncover the murderer.
The night Gordon Taylor, a prominent businessman and philanthropist, is murdered changes the lives of many people. Detective Ryan Hamlin is about to retire from the force when he’s handed this high-profile case. Gordon’s wife is devastated by his death. To complicate matters, Gordon’s company was about to go public, which would have made many of his associates rich.
At first, there are no leads in the case. A chance conversation months later uncovers a long list of suspects and an unusual investment worth millions as long as no one in the company is convicted of Gordon’s murder.
This unleashes finger-pointing and cover-ups. Can Detective Hamlin put the pieces together?
It’s hard to believe this is Kennison’s debut novel. Typically, a solid first novel shows much promise, but also shows weaknesses. Unless explicitly told, most readers won’t even know this is Kennison’s first foray into the publishing world. And to nail a mystery novel right out of the gate is an amazing feat. She sprinkles in clues deftly, the twists and turns will keep many guessing, and Kennison has created a clever cast of suspects, all with their own motives and secrets.
The most appealing aspect of the novel is the author’s creativity. The investment that everyone is protecting is not your typical business enterprise and one has to wonder if the author made it up completely. It’s unusual, well thought out, and humorous in a way. More importantly, it shows just how far people will go to get rich.
Murder mysteries are intriguing because they bring to light the depravity of ordinary people. This wickedness is disturbing on so many levels, but it’s also fascinating, especially when the main suspects are normal people that no one would ever suspect to be capable of murder. Not many want to think that the kind lady down the street is plotting someone’s death, but one never knows.
The main suspects in the novel are just as curious about finding the real murderer, but for different reasons. Hamlin wants justice. Jessica, the widow, says she does as well, but she isn’t being completely honest with the detective. Why?
Yet, it’s not just the widow’s secret that confounds the investigation. Every single person has something they are hiding, which really adds an interesting level to the story. It’s fun to watch Detective Hamlin tug on one thread to uncover clues that point in a completely different direction. It’s nearly impossible to figure out who actually murdered Gordon Taylor and why.
This is a well-written mystery novel that will stump even the most dedicated armchair sleuths. Death by Romance is expertly crafted with each chapter heightening the suspense and intrigue. As the suspect pool deepens, so does the entertainment factor. Some may be tempted to cheat and skip to the end. Don’t. Enjoy the mysterious ride all the way. Maybe you’ll solve the mystery before Detective Hamlin.
Highly recommended for readers who enjoy intelligent mystery novels.