Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mystery Book Review: The Little Death by P. J. Parrish

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

A Louis Kincaid Mystery

Pocket Books (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-4165-2589-0 (1416525890)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-2589-9 (9781416525899)
Publication Date: February 2010
List Price: $7.99

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The Little Death by P. J. Parrish
Buy The Little Death by P. J. Parrish

Review: Private investigator Louis Kincaid and his partner, ex-Miami police detective Mel Landeta, travel from the west coast of Florida to Palm Beach to assist in the defense of a young man accused of murdering his roommate in The Little Death, the 10th mystery in this series by P. J. Parrish.

Mark Durand's headless body was found in an isolated area just south of Lake Okeechobee. His roommate, Reggie Kent, is arrested for the crime. Reggie remembers Mel as someone who assisted him when he was in trouble years ago, and calls him now for help. Reggie is, as was Mark, a "walker", a good-looking young man who accompanies single (but not necessarily unmarried), wealthy women to high profile events. Reggie insists that sex is not part of the deal, but apparently Mark was more involved than Reggie thought. Louis and Mel start to believe a jealous husband may be the culprit, but then they learn of another headless body, also of an attractive young man who worked in Palm Beach, found five years earlier in a similar location. Then a third body turns up. The Palm Beach County police are reluctant to expand their investigation, believing Reggie guilty, so Louis and Mel proceed to build a case for them. But with potential witnesses unwilling to talk, Palm Beach being a small, insulated community, their efforts are proving to be difficult indeed.

The Little Death is a nuanced thriller with many layers, but also a somewhat uneven one. About midway through it makes an abrupt transition from a stylish whodunit-style murder mystery to a relatively routine, albeit intense, police procedural. Told mostly from the point of view of Louis Kincaid, the story moves along swiftly; even though the book exceeds 400 pages, it doesn't feel that long. The ending may disappoint some as the motivation for the crimes seems rather arbitrary and incompletely related; maybe that was intentional on the part of the author(s), to make them even more shocking, as if chopping off the young men's heads wasn't already. Still, The Little Death is a page-turner, with an open-ended conclusion that will have readers anticipating the next entry in the series. (Note to the author(s): bring back Andrew Swann; he may be deserving of a series all on his own.)

Special thanks to P. J. Parrish for providing an ARC of The Little Death for this review.

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

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Most people would kill to live in glamorous Palm Beach, with its beautiful women, five-star resorts, and dazzling coast. But most people don't know what really goes on in the bedrooms of the rich and famous ...

Mark Durand did -- and now the handsome high-class "walker," who escorted the wealthiest women to posh affairs, is dead, his beheaded corpse found in an abandoned cattle pen.

South Florida detective Louis Kincaid feels out of his element in Palm Beach, especially after receiving a ticket for driving an ugly car. But plunged into the gruesome homicide case, he's agreed to help prime suspect Reggie Kent, an aging male walker who may or may not have been the victim's lover. And as his investigation snakes through the privileged class, Kincaid uncovers shocking truths about a powerful lady senator whose husband collects dangerous weaponry ... a silver-tongued dowager with a taste for gossip ... and a seductive socialite who tries to make Kincaid forget about his girlfriend Joe Frye -- by whispering three little words: "Die with me."

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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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