Today’s mystery is one that Cathy at Indie Bookworm put me on to last week. The detective in Dead on Demand is DCI Morton who has good instincts about people and uses a forensic psychologist, Dr. Jensen, as a “human lie detector. [Dr. Jensen] was one of the rare individuals who could recognise micro expressions, visual clues that appear on the face for a fraction of a second”. Between the two of them, and a crack coroner, they’re bound to get to the bottom of the death of Edwin Murphy’s wife, Eleanor. Murphy isn’t concerned since he was in Vancouver, British Columbia, interviewing for a job when the murder occurred.
Authors Dan and Sean Campbell bring a lot of characters into the story, weaving them carefully into the plot. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out how they connect but it makes for a little extra mystery. The plot is not a new one but it is updated and involves lots of modern technology. The idea is that two people who don’t know each other each have one someone they want eliminated, so they swap murders; with nothing to connect them to their victims law enforcement won’t be able to catch them, let alone convict them. So here, Murphy uses the ‘darknet,’ a “secure private network using an Internet technology that lets users communicate anonymously,” to set up his wife’s murder while arranging for someone else to commit his assassin’s murder. Neat and tidy — and Edwin doesn’t even have to kill anyone himself.
However, Edwin decides he needs to be a bit more secure, so he hires another assassin to kill the first. Before you know it, Edwin is at the centre of an interlacing web of killers and feeling quite confident that he was getting away with murder. When one assassin doesn’t keep his part of the bargain, the anonymity of the web starts to unravel. Although we seem to know who is pulling the strings, when the last chapter draws to a close, the actual puppet master is a total surprise.
While the plot was intriguing and the characters engaging, there were times when I had to employ a “willing suspension of disbelief” as when the most likeable character, Israeli-trained in Krav Maga self-defense, loses a hand-to-hand fight with a young loser of an ex-con. At one point near the end, a victim was mentioned who had not been previously mentioned anywhere in the book. There were some very interesting side plots. One of the characters is a little boy with a disease called Tay-Sachs which I knew nothing about before. Also, one of the assassins used a very rare snake venom called taipoxin which would cause all the victim’s muscles to stop functioning, including his heart muscles. Despite the few inconsistencies, I did really enjoy the story and DCI Morton and look forward to reading the next book in the series, an excerpt of which is included at the end of this book. Available from Amazon and other fine book sellers. * * * 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 as your Monday post, 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.
Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a copy of The Prophetess by Jill Eileen Smith. Two days left! See the link in my sidebar.