by Susan Yanguas
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction
Abby Ford is an ex-lawyer who has embarked on a surprising new career as a massage therapist. One day on her run she encounters a man bending over another man in a driveway. Later she discovers that she has become the only witness to a murder. Salvatore Santavillagio, a new detective on the local police force, takes her testimony about the strange sight. Unfortunately, she didn’t wear her glasses on her run. Still, her chance encounter draws her into a construction deal gone badly and a conflict between progress and nature preservation. Her involvement with the case unfolds into danger, intrigue, threats to her work and life, and maybe even romance.
This book was a lot of fun to read. The mystery, plots, and setbacks worked well with the characters and kept the book interesting. I liked the way the character of Abby rises out of her fear and uncertainty to fight evil and stand up for herself. Susan wrote Abby as a dynamic character with a lot of interesting life changes and inner conflict that connects me to her as the reader. Her side characters had a lot of variety and personality, which I also enjoyed.
I found the first half of the book a bit slow moving, but that problem could be repaired by removing excess details such as the two kindle pages that describe how each of the policemen eat eggrolls.
I also felt confused over whether the author intended the story to focus around Abby or Salvatore, nicknamed Fish. We learned many of Abby’s inner thoughts and feelings, but a large part of the book shifts to predominantly follow Salvatore. I found Salvatore’s role as a main character one I couldn’t connect with. The story hinted a little about the reasons for his standoffish, closed attitude but gave few endearing reasons why I as a reader should expect that. Even his fantasies seemed stifled. With no look behind his facade, he became a vehicle instead of a relatable person. In chapter 15 we began to glimpse a tiny bit of the man beyond the physical description, but never connected much deeper than that. I felt hints at a future book where I might learn more about him, but felt the attempt to keep revelations about his secrets for the next book to hurt this one.
The ending of the book improved over the slower beginning, increasing the stakes to the conclusion. Unfortunately the funeral scene at the end brought back an excess of detail that didn’t really connect to the story just finished. Once I powered through it I enjoyed the treat of the last few pages.