Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mystery Book Review: Dark Alley by Evan Marshall

Mysterious Reviews: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller and Crime Novel Reviews, edited by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

An Anna Winthrop "Hidden Manhattan" Mystery

Severn House (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-7278-6835-7 (0727868357)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-6835-0 (9780727868350)
Publication Date: March 2010
List Price: $27.95

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Dark Alley by Evan Marshall
Buy Dark Alley by Evan Marshall

Review: Soon after Anna Winthrop, a supervisor with the New York City Sanitation Department, breaks up a fight between two men, one of them is found murdered in a courtyard along his route, spurring her to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death in Dark Alley, the third mystery in this series by Evan Marshall.

Garry Thomason had been moody lately, but his spat with a co-worker over a woman seemed hardly serious enough for the other to kill him. While cleaning out his locker, Anna discovers a couple of newspaper articles from Baghdad, where Garry had served a tour of duty, which describe the rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager and the subsequent murder of the suspect while in custody. She considers that Garry's death may be linked to his time in Iraq -- but that theory seems unlikely when another body ... and still another ... are found in local mews. The headlines proclaim "Mews Murderer on the Loose!" and "Serial Killer 'Courts' Murder", yet Anna's curiosity about the events in Iraq intrigue her. It isn't until her own life is threatened that she realizes she's on to a ruthless killer -- one who doesn't want the truth about the past to come to light.

Readers will quickly take to Anna Winthrop, a down-to-earth amateur sleuth in an unusual profession, one that allows the author to explore some of the lesser known areas of Manhattan (hence the series subtitle). Both the character and the setting are well drawn and appealing. The murder mystery plot also plays out nicely, is properly paced with an abundance of red herrings, but ultimately disappoints as it relies too heavily on an improbable sequence of events that are really only disclosed in the final pages. Part of the attraction of a whodunit-style murder mystery -- which this is -- is when the reader is engaged in the investigation, able to figure out, together with the protagonist, the culprit and motive. That really doesn't happen here. So while the journey is enjoyable, the ending is a bit of a letdown.

Special thanks to Evan Marshall for providing a copy of Dark Alley for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): When sanitation worker Garry Thomason vanishes on his way to collect the trash, he is the first in a series of people discovered brutally murdered in the middle of hidden mews in New York. As Anna, Garry’s boss, works to expose this "Mews Murderer", she first uncovers Garry’s murky past of crime and drugs, and then becomes a target herself; for this cold-blooded killer will do anything to escape detection and keep hidden a shocking secret of his own ...

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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