Series: Ryan DeMarco #1
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on January 10, 2017
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A literary page-turner about a beloved college professor accused of murdering his entire family, and one small-town cop's dangerous search for answers.
Thomas Huston, a beloved professor and bestselling author, is something of a local hero in the small Pennsylvania college town where he lives and teaches. So when Huston's wife and children are found brutally murdered in their home, the community reacts with shock and anger. Huston has also mysteriously disappeared, and suddenly, the town celebrity is suspect number one.
Sergeant Ryan DeMarco has secrets of his own, but he can't believe that a man he admired, a man he had considered a friend, could be capable of such a crime. Hoping to glean clues about Huston's mind-set, DeMarco delves into the professor's notes on his novel-in-progress. Soon, DeMarco doesn't know who to trust—and the more he uncovers about Huston's secret life, the more treacherous his search becomes.
Two men – Huston and DeMarco. Huston is a writer, a family man, a celebrity, and from all indications, has gone off the deep end and killed his wife children. DeMarco is a semi-stereotypical cop, a loner, a wounded man, but a good guy. The two were maybe friends by now DeMarco’s job is to find Huston, who is on the run, or not. It’s a decent set-up. Huston’s thoughts are rambling, he doesn’t let us know what happened. DeMarco thinks Huston is probably innocent, but the majority of the book is about finding Huston, other suspects barely enter the picture until late.
I struggled through this one. I didn’t get a chance to care about Huston because you never really know him, you just know the him that is shattered by the murders of his family. DeMarco I could almost like, but it’s not just his dark moods and drinking and stalking his ex, he’s not really a good cop. Lots of fictional cops fail to call for backup or don’t give their superior the whole story, I can overlook that, but he makes a couple of decisions that seem just wrong, even for a rogue cop.
The writing was uneven for me. Sometimes it was lush and descriptive and atmospheric, sometimes it seemed overly detail and melodramatic, trying too hard to be a “literary” mystery, like being a thriller wasn’t good enough.
As a mystery, it worked well. The clues were there even if we got one important one rather late, but I didn’t put them together. The secondary characters were fleshed out well.
Maybe it just needed to be a bit shorter or a bit less wordy. I didn’t find it as engrossing as I had hoped.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: