Saturday, November 15, 2014

"Woman With a Gun" by Phillip Margolin kept me up all night!

I am tired today and it is all Phillip Margolin's fault.  I started reading this book last night and expected to be able to put it aside to sleep, but I kept waking up and reading a little more until I finally gave up, stayed awake, and finished it.

This stand-alone novel is a very different style of mystery so if you are a fan of the author's series be prepared for a change.  Rather than one main character who the plot follows through the entire book, there are a couple of them and the plot is not linear.  In fact, it is not just one story but three interrelated stories that take place in 2015, 2005 and 2000, respectively. And the style is a little bit of legal thriller and a little bit of amateur sleuthing mystery.

The book starts in 2015 with Stacey Kim, an aspiring novelist in NYC who gets inspiration from a photograph at a museum and decides to get the facts about it as background research for her book. The 2005 storyline is about the murder investigation in which the photographer is a witness and the subject of the photo is a suspect.  The main character in that section is Jack Booth, an Oregon prosecutor brought to Palisades Heights to help the local DA with a high-profile murder investigation.  Jack has history with the photographer, which leads to the 2000 story when Jack was a young prosecutor.  Eventually the book returns to the present and all the story lines come together.

That all sounds more complicated than it is and the interrelated stories both keep the plot moving and give the reader insight into the characters' personalities and backgrounds.  (Interestingly, Stacey was the least interesting character to me because her story is all in the present and she lacked the depth of the other characters.)

I had an idea who the killer might be, but for most of the book it could have been almost any of the characters except Stacey.  The confession was a little abrupt and it seemed to me that the evidence that prompted it could have been explained away, but those are minor quibbles with a book that not only kept my interest but kept me awake and reading.  If you like smart mysteries, this one is for you.

In a case of art imitates life, the author got the inspiration for the book from a photograph -- and that photo is on the cover of the book.

I received a free ARC of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a review.

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