Thursday, June 01, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Final Truth by Mariah Stewart

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has published its review Final Truth by Mariah Stewart on its website. For our blog readers, it is reprinted here in its entirety.

Final Truth by Mariah StewartSynopsis (from the publisher): All that stands between Lester Ray Barnes and the state of Florida’s death chamber is a judge’s signature. He is sentenced to die for the rape and murder of a young woman, his conviction hinging on two pieces of evidence: DNA testing and an eyewitness who placed him at the scene. But when the story breaks that the DNA testimony at trial had been fabricated and that the eyewitness was coerced by a cop, all hell breaks loose. In the absence of credible evidence to sustain the conviction, the court is forced to set Lester Ray free. It’s the sort of circus the media adore–until it turns into the kind of Grimm’s fairy tale the media love even more.

Intrigued by the story of a young man railroaded by justice, true-crime writer Regan Landry is drawn into Lester Ray’s camp like a moth to a flame. For Regan, writing is a way to stay connected to her late literary-legend father, and her knack for detective work makes her a natural when it comes to uncovering new leads in even the murkiest mysteries.

Eager for the spotlight, Lester Ray willingly agrees to work with Regan on a tell-all about his experience as an innocent man on death row. But less than a week after leaving prison, he vanishes from the Sunshine State. Soon after, darkness descends on the outer banks of North Carolina as a string of women are raped and murdered in a frenzied spree. Fearing the worst, Regan, along with Special Agent Mitch Peyton and the FBI, sweeps in to confront the unspeakable: the horrifying possibility that they have helped to free a cunning monster with an insatiable appetite for death–and a ruthless determination never to be caged again.

Review: Final Truth is the 4th, final, and possibly best, book of Mariah Stewart's "Truth" series of suspense thrillers.

The premise of this book is all the more chilling because it is so plausible. Stewart has crafted a remarkable traditional whodunit-style mystery together with a topical thought-provoking study on capital punishment. Regardless of which side you may take on the subject (and Stewart is careful not to take sides), Final Truth is not likely to change your mind but it will probably make an interesting topic of conversation among good friends — ones that can agree to disagree with you.

Though Final Truth is part of a series, it stands alone on its own merits. Some characters have previously appeared in earlier books, but it is not necessary to have read these books to fully appreciate the complexity that Stewart has imparted to them. Stewart should consider bringing one or more of them back in another series, they are that interesting.

Finally, the subplot involving the mystery of Eddie Kroll neatly ties together this series that began with Cold Truth.

Final Truth should be on your summer reading list, and is highly recommended.

Special thanks to Book Trends for providing the ARC of Final Truth for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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