Today for Mystery Monday is a first novel by author, Sarah Cain. After the death of his wife and son in a single car crash, Pulitzer prize winning columnist/journalist Danny Ryan thought he was in a real mess, but that was nothing compared to his state of mind after his friend, Michael Cohen, smashes through Ryan’s fence into his duck pond, dying from a bullet in his gut. Suddenly, Ryan finds himself involved in trying to uncover the organizers of the seamiest, most twisted underground sexual abuses (and murders) in Philadelphia, hunted by them, and suspected by the police, his friends and acquaintances dropping like flies. However, for the first time in a year, Danny Ryan is motivated into action.
Andy Cohen, Michael’s father and Ryan’s boss, is a high-powered newspaper publisher with a beautiful wife who no longer excites him. Michael is a disappointment to his parents and Danny is the son they wished they’d had. Michael works at the paper despite his ineptitude at all but the simplest, most innocuous assignments until he stumbles across something that would blow the lid off upper crust Philadelphia, including his parents. He knew he was dying but wanted Danny to have his research; he was trying to deliver it when he crashed. His last word was “Inferno“, and, while Danny had no idea what it meant, he was about to enter into it.
This is a story well-told with lots of twists. Several times, as I was coming to the end of a chapter, I thought, Well, that’s that! only to find there was another chapter with yet another surprise. I empathized with Danny. He came from as dysfunctional a family as you could imagine. He had been badly abused as a child by his father and his brothers and every time it seems as though he has lost everything, he loses something else. People have been lying to him all his life, and those he trusted as friends always let him down. Yet, he thinks it’s himself who is to blame for all these events.
Despite all the swearing and disgusting violence, I couldn’t stop reading. (Perhaps because I had a deadline to do a mystery review, but not entirely.) I will probably pick up the second novel in this series when it comes out, mostly to find out if Danny pulls it together or if his mind continues this cycle of loss and blame. The title comes from Dante, and the names of the sex clubs do as well. The 8th circle is only directly referred to once in the book (and the 7th circle is mentioned once as well), but we get the picture. The 8th Circle is a decent first novel, full of excitement and conflict. If you are someone who likes car chases, you’ll probably enjoy this book. * * * 1/2
It’s very easy to participate in my Mystery Monday meme. Just post a review of your latest mystery read on your own site, and then a comment on my post with a link to yours. Drag or copy my meme logo and add it to your post along with these few rules. Simplicity itself! I look forward to learning about more great mysteries to add to my ever-growing list of To Be Read.