Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mystery Book Review: Going, Gone by Laura Crum

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

A Gail McCarthy Mystery

Perseverance Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-880284-98-7 (1880284987)
ISBN-13: 978-1-880284-98-8 (9781880284988)
Publication Date: April 2010
List Price: $14.95

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Going, Gone by Laura Crum
Buy Going, Gone by Laura Crum

Review: Horse veterinarian Gail McCarthy travels with her husband and young son to the Sierra Nevadas for week of camping on an old friend's ranch only to learn he's under arrest for murder in Going, Gone, the 11th mystery in this series by Laura Crum.

Lonny Peterson is accused of murdering two people, a brother and sister who operate a local livestock auction house. A witness places Lonny at the scene of the crime, and his gun was the murder weapon. Gail can't believe Lonny capable of murder, and for that matter, neither can anyone else. Lonny doesn't deny being there, nor does he dispute ownership of the gun, which he says he hadn't seen in months and anyone could have taken. Inquiring about the murder victims, she discovers nearly all the local residents have intertwining relationships, either personal or professional, and several of them may have had a motive for murder. But the real question remains: which of the brother and sister was the intended victim, with the other happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or did someone have a reason to kill both of them?

Crum has a real talent for painting beautiful backdrops for her novels, with the wide open expanses of the Sierra Nevada foothills in Going, Gone being no exception. She can also craft thrilling action scenes, including a heart-stopping one that comes near the end of this book. But the murder mystery plot here isn't all that strong, in part because, rather inexplicably, much of what will constitute the ending is given away about midway through. Gail asks all the right questions to all the right people at just the right time so there isn't much surprise at the who and why.

Crum often includes long philosophical passages on the meaning of life, something of a recurring theme in her books. Though they have little bearing on the main storyline, they are interesting and provide a unique perspective into the character of Gail McCarthy. In Going, Gone, she is mourning the loss of a cherished dog. When she sees the body of a cat lying alongside the road, killed by a passing car, she asks "Did his spirit still exist somewhere, somehow?" And then ...

Why was life so? Why not something tranquil, harmonious, gentle, stable? Why not something that stayed? What good God could possibly have created this brief, brutal, transitory, painful experience, spirit wedded to body for just long enough to yearn for permanence, to learn to love others who were equally impermanent?

Relatively short at less than 200 pages, Going, Gone can easily be read in one sitting. Though the mystery itself may be somewhat disappointing, the journey is a satisfying one.

Special thanks to Perseverance Press for providing an ARC of Going, Gone for this review.

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

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Horse vet Gail McCarthy's life turns stranger than fiction when her old boyfriend, Lonny Peterson, is arrested for murder-by none other than Gail's childhood friend, Bret Boncantini, now a sheriff's deputy in a Sierra foothills town. Lonny is accused of the murder of two local livestock auctioneers, one his girlfriend and the other her brother. Both Gail and Bret are sure of Lonny's innocence, and decide to investigate. As they begin to turn up evidence and two more murders occur, the trail leads to Gail's home on the Central California coast. And as Gail closes in on the answer, the ruthless murderer may decide she needs to be eliminated, too.

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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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