Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Rigged for Murder by Jenifer LeClair

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Rigged for Murder by Jenifer LeClair. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Rigged for Murder by Jenifer LeClairBuy from Amazon.com

Rigged for Murder by
A Windjammer Mystery with Brie Beaumont

Durban House (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-930754-88-4 (1930754884)
ISBN-13: 978-1-930754-88-1 (9781930754881)
Publication Date: February 2008
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Fighting post-traumatic stress after being shot, homicide detective Brie Beaumont takes a leave from the department and heads for where her family has roots and for the sea where she feels at home. She ships out on the Maine Wind for an early season cruise with Captain John DuLac and eight others. Caught in a gale, they anchor off remote and windswept Granite Island. But there's more trouble brewing than just a bad storm, and when someone aboard is murdered, Brie reluctantly resumes the mantle of investigator. The action moves from the ship to the small fishing village of Lobsterman's Cove and, from there, to the forests and cliffs of Granite Island. Snug Harbor Bed and Breakfast affords refuge to the sailors and a place for Brie to question the passengers. Plagued by flashbacks, and fighting a growing attraction to Captain DuLac, she works to unravel a mystery that will place her directly in the path of a psychopathic killer.

Review: A sailor herself since she was 17 years old, St. Paul Minnesota author Jenifer LeClair has rigged her first novel in her windjammer series, Rigged for Murder, into a winning combination of psychological thriller, police procedural, and action adventure. It’s a five-star launch for her aptly named sea-going series and hopefully a precursor for an armada of others to follow.

At thirty-six, Brie Beaumont, as LeClair tells it, has got twelve years of service as a veteran detective with the Minneapolis Police Force. She’s recovering from the trauma of a shooting in which her partner was killed and she’s bearing the burden of guilt. Now with a leave of absence, she’s returned to her childhood summertime solace at seaside Maine on a windjammer cruise to hopefully heal her psyche and wash away her burden. But it doesn’t work that way when a murder occurs on board the windjammer Maine Wind where she’s a passenger and she’s forced into the detective’s role she was hoping to escape. With only long distance police backup from Minneapolis but no direct access to the CSI technology available there, she now has to revert to basic instincts, and fundamental Sherlockian techniques to assess clues, question the eight passengers and crew on the jammer, analyze them and herself and conclude who had the means, motive and opportunity to impale the victim with the marlin spike found in his chest during an overnight storm. Within the close confines of the ship and a nearby island where they shelter from the storm, Brie believes, “At least the killer can’t escape; nowhere to go.” And so it seems as she interviews each of the passengers and crew, each with his or her stories to tell, sometimes forthrightly, sometimes tripped up by their own lies about voyeurism, homosexuality, womanizing, jealousy, or past lives, and sometimes caught in Brie’s net as she toys with a piece of frayed rope, making and unmaking sailors’ knots, trying to unravel the strands of her past or tie down her currently surging feelings for ship’s captain John DuLac. It’s a process in which she discovers that “finding the truth was somewhat like sifting through sand looking for salt.” And while she seeks and sifts, the sea whips around the ship and the island retreat with moods as varied and unpredictable as the motives that wash over the novel’s characters and sail them towards a surprisingly action-packed and riveting ending.

Tightly-written and intricately constructed LeClair’s Rigged for Murder is first-class storytelling in a setting so authentic you can hear the ocean’s roar and taste the salt from the sea.

Special thanks to M. Wayne Cunningham (mw_cunningham@telus.net) for contributing his review of Rigged for Murder and to Durban House for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — M. Wayne Cunningham — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

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