Publisher iUniverse presents us with a novel by Joan Del Monte in the mystery and detective line.
The formula is there. We have an amateur detective, in this case a female writer, a side kick, the private investigator from whom she is taking an adult school class and a body, along with the murderer who is not revealed until the end.
It is told in the first person from the first chapter on. The only place it is not seen through the eyes of the female writer is the prologue which sets the scene. This is the only place where the point of view is third person. I am sure the reason for the prologue is the author wanted us to have some information that the main character was not alive to know. The story could have been told without this information but it does provide some interesting background to the tension between the inhabitants in the Delta region of Sacramento. This area is where the story of the novel the writer is trying to complete is placed.
This book is an example of a mystery wrapped in a novel. “Mud Blood” concerns a writer who must finish writing a book before a deadline. Her agent is pushing her to finish it using the notes she has. But her co-author has the outline and, hopefully, the answer as to who done it. The co-author has disappeared and must be traced. As each person is interviewed who knew this lawyer, Fenton, you get a clearer picture of a not so likeable guy. She could postulate the killer and get it ready for publication as her agent suggests. But Fenton must be found to sign off the book before it goes to publication. It is not something our heroine can do by herself.
She is faced with a decision. Either finish the book or lose the commission. She has kept the diagrams of the plot up to this point. The way she is developed you know she is not going to even consider that option. She is a strong character.
Each chapter is headed by a location. The major action takes place in the Los Angeles area such as the Crenshaw District, Pacific Cliffs, Malibu and Venice. There are some chapters that take place in the Sacramento Delta. Del Monte’s Research can be seen in the details. She seems to enjoy research.
In her previous novel, “Plonk Goes the Weasel”, she uses Venice and Beverly Hills as some of her place settings as she does in this book. She lives in Venice so she is following the dictate given at most writers’ conferences to write what you know.
The narrative just pulls you along. She handles her characters well. You have a satisfying conclusion.
I hope you are having as much fun reading these reviews as I do writing them. Lots of reading time goes into each review before I chose books worthy of being presented in the Santa Monica Daily Press. Please keep those e-mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org.