Friday, October 27, 2006

Mystery Book Review: Family Business by Janet LaPierre

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

Family Business by Janet LaPierre
A Port Silva Mystery

Perseverance Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-880284-85-5 (1880284855)
ISBN-13: 978-1-880284-85-8 (9781880284858)
Publication Date: September 2006
List Price: $13.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): In October 2002, after the Port Silva City Council denies a group of citizens permission for a demonstration against an ever-more-likely war in Iraq, the organizers take their planning underground. A few days later, some one thousand silent anti-war protesters march the city streets to a coastal park, where their peaceful demonstration degenerates into a riot that crowds jail cells and the emergency ward, and leaves one local man lost in the stormy sea, another simply missing. As Chief Gutierrez struggles to protect angry citizens from one another and find the missing man, Patience and Verity Mackellar are hired to look into the background of the man who presumably drowned, and find that he’s not who he said he was.

Review: Janet LaPierre's 9th Port Silva mystery, the aptly titled Family Business, is a captivating study of family relationships and the secrets that can bind them or tear them apart.

Private investigators Patience Mackellar and her daughter Verity, looking into the past for information on Danny Soto, missing after a fall from a cliff, discover he has no history prior to 1996. Probing further, they find a link to another young man, Luke MacWhorter, who disappeared that same year. Believing Danny and Luke to be the same person, Patience is convinced that solving the mystery of Danny's disappearance is dependent on finding out what—or whom—Danny is running away from.

Family Business is set in 2002, following the Gulf War and prior to the current US involvement in Iraq. It isn't clear whether or not LaPierre intended to write Family Business as a mystery with a message, or was simply trying to be topical. But her personal political ideology is prominently on display in many ways throughout the book. Since being pro- or anti-war has no bearing whatsoever on the story in Family Business, it is often distracting when LaPierre interjects what appear to be her own views on the current situation in Iraq for no obvious literary reason, especially when the book takes place prior to present day events. Her obvious strongly held political convictions certainly don't further the plot in any meaningful way. Fortunately, in the second half of the book, the political overtones abate somewhat, allowing her and the reader to concentrate on what is otherwise a first rate mystery.

Janet LaPierre is a most accomplished author and Family Business is a pleasure to read with its expressive narrative, intricate plot, and richly drawn characters and locales. Politics aside, it is a terrific mystery.

Special thanks to Perseverance Press for providing a copy of Family Business for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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