If you love a good mystery, you'll love Lauren Carr. I thought her debut novel, A Small Case of Murder, was fantastic, but A Reunion to Die For is even better. When Lauren Carr is at the wheel, you'd better make sure your seat belt is securely buckled because she never slows down. All kinds of twists and turns keep you guessing all the way through, making for a rich and thoroughly enjoyable read.
We first met Joshua Thornton in Carr's previous novel, A Small Case of Murder; having lost his wife, Joshua had returned to his home town of Chester to raise his five children in a peaceful environment. His hopes for peace and quiet proved to be short-lived, however, as he soon found himself in the role of special prosecutor going after a prominent family implicated in a whole slew of murders. Now he's the county district attorney, having to investigate the murder of a high school cheerleader. It's a case that bears several disturbing parallels to the "suicide" of Tricia Wheeler, one of Joshua's high school friends (and also a cheerleader), twenty years ago. Speculation that the two deaths may in fact be related in some way is intensified by the arrival of local girl Gail Reynolds, a well-known network journalist who has returned home to Chester to write a book about Tricia's mysterious death. Gail's presence doesn't make Joshua's job any easier, as she has always been something of a nemesis to him - going out of her way, ever since high school, to question his integrity and undermine his successes. She's not the only former classmate Joshua has to deal with, either; there's also Tori Brody, something of a wild child who now turns up as a defense lawyer, of all things. Before you know it, Joshua has a stable-full of women causing him potential trouble. His good friend Jan has already confessed her love for him, Tori makes no secret of her lust for him, and Gail's attitude toward him smells suspiciously of sexual tension. All the wild stories springing up around Joshua and these women not only complicate his life and his ability to do his job, they also convince the new (and unqualified) chief detective - who tends to jump to immediate conclusions - that Josh himself is the murderer.
This isn't the kind of novel you'll want to read in fits and starts because Carr introduces you to a number of characters in the story - but in doing so, she makes you feel like a virtual citizen of Chester yourself. In fact, her story-telling prowess makes it hard to put the book down at all, and she has the amazing ability to bring even minor characters to memorable life. Most impressively of all, every aspect of the mystery makes sense in the end - Carr doesn't leave any rocks unturned or loose ends dangling after the fact - nor do any facets of the truth feel contrived in any way. You can't say that about many a mystery writer these days - as far as I'm concerned, Lauren Carr is one of the best out there right now.
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