Friday, May 7, 2021

Reprise Review: Dies Irae by BV Lawson


Genre: Mystery


In the third book featuring investigator Scott Drayco, music majors are murdered at a prestigious private college. The killer leaves taunting clues in the form of complex music puzzles.


“Author, poet, and journalist BV Lawson's award-winning stories, poems and articles have appeared in dozens of national and regional publications and anthologies. A four-time Derringer Award finalist and 2012 winner for her short fiction, BV was also honored by the American Independent Writers and Maryland Writers Association for her Scott Drayco series.”

For more, visit her website.


BV Lawson has created a memorable character in Drayco, a concert pianist turned FBI agent, turned crime consultant. He also has the fascinating condition of synesthesia, which not only adds a mysterious depth to his character it is integral to the plot. (Synesthesia: a sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain color. --

The investigation moves through a fairly complex story line and an extensive group of characters, which requires alertness on the part of the reader. Lawson, however, makes the effort enjoyable as she gives each character his or her own voice and plenty of idiosyncrasies. She also weaves in interesting facts from obscure medical conditions, to religions, to musical history, some of which sent me to the Internet for more information. Among the most fascinating was Olivier Messiaen, whose work the musical puzzles were based on.

The story starts with the murder of a promising singer. A second murder and an abduction keeps the tension high as an FBI agent working with Drayco fears for his own daughter's safety.

For a who-done-it, the culprit is almost too carefully hidden. While there are some faint clues toward the climax, the hunt evolves mostly through a process of elimination. Even so, anyone clever enough to guess the killer is still in for a satisfying surprise.

Buy now from:    Amazon US        Amazon UK


The first victim is a petit woman, and there is a statement that her body should contain six liters of blood. That sounded like far too much. An extensive Internet check indicates calculating the amount is an inexact science, but there are several references to the average volume for a 150 pound man being around 5 to 5.5 liters. It isn’t that relevant to the story but as a retired financial journalist, I remain paranoid about not flagging a possible numerical error. Original review ran January 3, 2016

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: Sam Waite

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words

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