|Rochelle Krich: Shadows of Sin|
Morrow (Hardcover), ISBN 0-380-97770-2
We meet Marianna Velasquez. She comforts her sick son via telephone from her receptionist's desk in the doctor's office. Their words hang in the air, the last they will ever exchange. The irony hits when we learn she works in this protected, upscale setting to stay out of the "gun-riddled East Los Angeles neighborhood" where she grew up. But in the quiet understated elegance of a high-priced doctor's office, she looks into the barrel of a gun.
The killer dispassionately shoots Marianna, the doctor and the nurse assisting him. But the killer's identity remains secret until the last second in this suspenseful whodunit.
Everyone comes under suspicion, including the good doctor's sweet wife, lovely daughter and surrogate son. Even the good, but dead, doctor's reputation receives scrutiny, revealing a few blemishes that even plastic surgery can't erase.
The story slowly unfolds while Detective Drake searches for clues carelessly left by the killer. The emotions flowing in this sad and dysfunctional family ensnare Jessie like a Venus Flytrap. She finds herself comparing the Bushnell family to her own fragile nuclear group, which itself bordering on dysfunctional. Both families balance on the edge of disaster. And before solving the case, the detective will also teeter -- between life and death -- in this violent in-your-face murder.
Detective Drake serves as a vehicle for solving murders and presenting an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle. She questions her feelings for the young rabbi who leads her into the truths and tenets of her Jewish heritage. When not searching for a murderer or enlightenment, she gleans clues to expose her father's secret -- the secret, which threatens to tear her family apart.
Like challah bread, Krich braids together traditional, spiritual, religious and family elements of the story to create a hot and steaming treat full of the symbols and nuances mystery readers love.
The disquieting storyline yields a satisfying, if not comforting, conclusion. But as always with Krich fiction, she leaves us with hope.
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