Genre: Mystery/Police Procedural
“In the late nineties, a bad cop killed a good woman and DC Homicide detective Marty Singer got to watch as the murderer walked out of the courtroom a free man.
Twelve years later, the victim's daughter comes to Marty begging for help: the killer is stalking her now.
There's just one problem: Marty's retired...and he's retired because he's battling cancer. But with a second shot at the killer--and a first chance at redemption--Marty's just found A Reason to Live.”
“Matthew Iden writes fantasy, science fiction, horror, thrillers, crime fiction, and contemporary literary fiction with a psychological twist.
An eclectic resume--he's held jobs with the US Postal Service, international non-profit groups, a short stint with the Forest Service in Sitka, Alaska and time with the globe-spanning Semester at Sea program--has given him inspiration for short stories and novel ideas, while trips to Iceland, Patagonia, and Antarctica haven't hurt in the creative juices department, either. A post-graduate education in English Literature wasn't necessary, but it helped define what he didn't want to do with his life and let him read a great deal of good books.”
I’d barely started reading A Reason to Believe when I hit this paragraph.
I was killing time at a coffee shop, slouched in an overstuffed chair that had been beaten into submission years earlier. The café—I don't know the name, Middle Grounds or Mean Bean or something precious—was a grungy, brown stain of a place flanked by a failing Cajun restaurant on one side and a check-cashing store on the other. A crowd of Hispanic guys hung around out front looking simultaneously aimless and expectant, hoping their next job was about to pull up to the curb. I looked up from my cup and stared at the girl who'd called me by name. She was slim, with delicate brown hair worn past the shoulders and intense, dark eyes set in a face so pale Poe would've written stories about it.
I was impressed. In a single evocative paragraph I understood the coffee shop, the neighborhood it was in, the crowd outside (which figures into a later scene), a lot about the narrator Marty, and not only pictured the girl who’d approached him, but was curious about what she wanted. I was hooked. And I stayed hooked.
The premise, that a murderer who escaped punishment has returned and is stalking the original victim’s daughter, is a good one that gives the protagonist, Marty, a chance at some kind of redemption. That Marty is retired because he has cancer complicates things in a couple of ways. First, although this is much like a police procedural, technically Marty isn’t even a cop anymore, so he doesn’t have ready access to the resources he had in the past. Then his chemotherapy treatment interferes with his ability to do much of anything some days, so detecting is out of the question.
This is the first of a series with at least three more books already available. I’m not sure if that means chemo goes well, but I’m eager to find out what his next case turns out to be.
Added for Reprise Review: A Reason to Live was a nominee in the Mystery category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran January 17, 2014
No significant issues.
Rating: ***** Five Stars
Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words