K. Wren: The Medusa Pool
(A Neely Jones Mystery)
Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press (Hardcover), ISBN: 0-312-24223-9
Wills doesn't get the chance. Neely's friend Lydia Quigley calls to announce Neely has won the election for sheriff as a result of Lydia's write-in campaign. The news horrifies Neely. Although Neely knows she would do a good job, she also knows the sheriff's good-ole-boy deputies will mutiny. But before Neely can resign the honor, a very drunk Giff Wills scribbles his resignation out in public.
Emptying ex-Sheriff Giff Wills' personal items out of his desk, Neely finds a fat envelope full of money. A bribe? A payoff? The phone rings. A whispering man offers Neely a small fortune to resign and violence if she doesn't.
However, Neely doesn't feel alarmed when Jan fails to come home on time from his job at the Oceanographic Center. Jan and his partner recently made an exciting scientific discovery and often put in late hours. But tonight would be different. Tonight Neely receives a late night phone call from Deputy Curtis McMinn, informing her of a murder at the Oceanographic Center. Jan arrives at the Center and finds her lover's body floating in a jellyfish tank painted with racist graffiti.
The Medusa Pool reads like a movie script -- long sections of dialogue interspersed with staccato blasts of third person, present tense narrative. In less capable hands, this style could be jarring and off-putting for the reader. However, Wren uses it like a master, delivering information cleanly and concisely, and drawing you smoothly into her characters' thoughts.
Wren's ability to lead you quickly through each situation and character makes it easy for the reader to follow a complex plot weaving its way through a landscape of bribes, vicious prejudice, unrequited love, murder, public malfeasance, drugs and the D. E. A. At the same time, Neely's character springs to vivid life as someone you want to learn more about and spend more time with. All in all, Wren has crafted a tightly written, tightly plotted mystery/thriller that will keep you reading far too late into the night.
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