A reliable fourteen-year-old boy goes missing, a powerful man commits suicide, problems at the Indian casino, heartbreaking revelations about Cork's wife, an ambitious politician, and a far-right anti-government survivalist group all intertwine in this suspense novel.
Although I had a few quibbles with this one, the writing was excellent, the characters were compelling, and I'm eager to read the next in the series.
Barry Award for Best First Novel (1999), Anthony Award for Best First Novel (1999), Dilys Award Nominee (1999), Minnesota Book Award for Mystery (1999)Atria Books
Mystery/Suspense. 1998. Print version: 464 pages.
Only the Innocent (also on Kindle Unlimited) is the first in a series by Rachel Abbott. DCI Tom Douglas is called to a murder scene that has trouble written all over it. The victim is a billionaire philanthropist and the murder has all the elements of a sex crime.
The prologue deals with the actual murder, but of course, it is impossible to identify the woman who ties the willing Sir Hugo Fletcher to the bed. He expects a sexual experience, but what he gets is...dead.
The first chapter has DCI Tom Douglas on the scene and the obvious conclusion is that a woman is responsible. Sir Hugo's charity involves helping young women escape prostitution so that is one avenue to follow, but another prime suspect is always the spouse.
The more Douglas digs into Sir Hugo's life, the more unpleasant secrets surface. Laura Fletcher was out of the country at the time of the murder, but she is keeping secrets, too. And what about the inconvenient arrival of her sister-in-law as Douglas is informing Laura of her husband's death? The more Douglas learns of the controlling and manipulative Sir Hugo, the more complicated the case becomes.
I found it difficult to sympathize with Laura. I know that some men are capable of controlling every detail in a spouse or partner, but through the letters that were written and never sent, I have to question Laura's willingness to submit to Sir Hugo's dictates. The letters reveal that she has a handle on what is going on, but she cuts off her family anyway.
The writing was fine, but certain elements were repetitive and did not advance the plot. There were several characters--the ex-wife, the creepy nanny, and the callous PA--who were at least partially aware of Hugo's proclivities, but kind of stood back and grinned. Coupled with Laura's willingness to surrender her personality, that makes too many women who are complicit in Hugo's crimes.
This was Abbot's debut novel, and I definitely see some promise with this series, even if it did not entirely work for me. I may give the next one a try since it is also a Kindle Unlimited.
Mystery/Suspense. 2013. Print version: 470 pages.