Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Gravewriter by Mark Arsenault

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Gravewriter by Mark Arsenault. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Gravewriter by Mark Arsenault

Gravewriter by Mark Arsenault
A Billy Povich Mystery

St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-33596-2 (0312335962)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-33596-0 (9780312335960)
Publication Date: November 2006
List Price: $23.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Billy Povich used to be a journalist. He lost his wife because of his gambling habit, and then she died in a car crash. Now he finds himself writing obituaries and living with his elderly father and seven-year-old son, Bo.

Billy plans to kill the man who was at the wheel the night of his wife's death. But then a summons to jury duty for a murder trial delays Billy’s agenda. As the trial heats up, Billy finds that his little boy spots danger faster than he does, and a frantic and deadly chase begins with Billy as the prey.

Review: Mark Arsenault introduces a new series with Gravewriter featuring Providence (RI) obituary writer Billy Povich out to exact revenge on the man he holds responsible for the death of his ex-wife in a car accident. While planning this mission, he is side-tracked by jury duty and finds himself listening to evidence in a trial of a man he believes is on his way to being convicted of a crime he didn't commit.

Billy is a reporter at heart, and despite the circumstances in which he finds himself, his natural instinct is to investigate. As a jury member, he is warned not to read anything about the case, yet having access to his newspaper's archives proves too much of a lure. He uncovers information that he, correctly, guesses is being suppressed by the court and then curiosity takes over. Why was it suppressed, and more importantly (to him), does it have anything to do with the crime of which the defendant is accused? What follows is a twisted tale of betrayal and deceit that will have even the most jaded mystery reader turning the pages to find out what happens next.

Arsenault has devised a clever and well-paced plot, seamlessly interleaving several apparently unrelated subplots to create a story that is greater than the sum of its parts. Billy is a wonderfully complex character: he has an addiction to gambling that ruined his marriage, yet he is a thoughtful and caring father and son, three generations of men living together who share a common joy in eating breakfast at all hours of the day and night. There is a noir-ish quality to the book, especially in its descriptions of the Providence locations that serve as its setting. Finally, the conclusion to Gravewriter comes as an unexpected surprise and provides the perfect ending to this exceptional mystery.

Special thanks to Breakthrough Promotions for providing an ARC of Gravewriter for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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