There is a new detective in town and, if Plot Twist by Donna J. Thompson is a harbinger of tales to come, mystery fans are in luck. Karl Larkin is a tough, no-nonsense investigator from the Midwest whose only vices are coffee and beautiful women. Larkin, while Ivy League material, rejected the ivory tower for the excitement and satisfaction of police work. Thompson models him on the Columbo school of police work in which methodical questioning and analysis lead to the penultimate moment when the perpetrator is trapped and confesses. However, will this approach be enough to solve the convoluted scenario of Plot Twist?
Lawrence Cromwell’s wife goes missing, the victim of an apparent kidnapping plot. Cromwell, a wealthy plastic surgeon, resides with his family in a mansion located in a walled-in gated estate. His wife, Julie, a meteoric and demanding spouse, goes missing on Friday night. A ransom note appears over the weekend and, after Cromwell pays the ransom, Julie remains missing. Larkin and his partner, Cramer, a pastry loving slob who acts as Larkin’s conscience, are called in to sort out the pieces. Julie’s bloodied vehicle and, ultimately, her body are discovered shortly thereafter. Kidnapping has become murder, but who is the murderer?
The Cromwell family is a jumble of potential suspects. At the top of the list is Cassie Thompson, Cromwell’s middle-aged daughter from his first marriage, who is a successful romance novelist and who Larkin both suspects and is intrigued by. The actions of Cromwell’s two teenage children, Tina and Todd, on the weekend of the crime also draw Larkin’s interest. Rounding out the suspects are Cromwell’s sister-in-law Carrie Risner, her husband James, and their son Toby. Larkin delves deeply into the case and chases down promising leads that fizzle into dead ends. The plot thickens when Larkin uses DNA evidence to delve deeply into the family’s past to uncover the trauma that guides its dynamic and reveals the solution to the murder.
Thompson has created a delightfully multidimensional conflicted character in Larkin. He doggedly follows lead after lead, while against his better judgement he dives into a romance with one of the suspects. He knows it is wrong; however, he believes he can manage the case and the romance. A full slate of characters populates Plot Twist, but Thompson develops them all fully so that the reader comes to know them inside and out. Thompson deftly builds the suspense and the tale’s denouement will surprise the reader. Plot Twist is an all-night page-turner of a novel. Hopefully we have not seen the last of Karl Larkin.
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|Mystery, Crime, Thriller