Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
No disrespect to Mac Faraday, Archie Monday, David O’Callaghan, Travis Turner or any of the multitude of good, bad and ugly characters populating Lauren Carr’s “It’s Murder, My Son” (CreateSpace, 286 pages, $14.99) but to me the most interesting character in the book is a lovable, mischievous, sneaky German shepherd named Gnarly.
Even people who are allergic to dogs and cats will get a jolt out of this Army veteran of a dog, originally imported to Spencer and Deep Creek Lake — Maryland’s largest lake — to guard local beauty Katrina Singleton. Gnarly is unsuccessful in his task and is brutally beaten in his attempt to save the wealthy Katrina from her murderer. Gnarly is rescued by Spencer Police Officer David O’Callaghan, who grew up with Katrina and has a history with her.
Gnarly ends up with former District of Columbia homicide detective Mac Faraday, who inherits a $270 million fortune from his birth mother, “America’s Queen of Mystery” novelist Robin Spencer. The inheritance couldn’t come at a better time: Faraday’s wife of 20 years, Christine, has left him for a D.C. lawyer named Stephen Maguire, and Mac loses everything in the divorce, including a house in the pricey Georgetown district of D.C. (How a cop can afford a house in Georgetown escapes me, but I think his affluent wife paid for it).
In a book that cries out for a front-of-book cast of characters (I had to keep paging back and forth to sort out who is Chad, what’s Rachel up to, etc., etc.) hardly anyone in the book is what he or she seems to be. Travis Turner, who grew up in Spencer with David and Katrina, was an indifferent student in high school who relied on his many girlfriends to write his term papers. Now, he’s a best-selling, prize-winning mystery writer. He’s not a workaholic writer; instead, he travels the world with his supermodel 29-year-old wife Sophia Hainsworth-Turner. Travis does research, exploiting his friendship with the police chief for details of crimes, and he has an administrative assistant (we used to call them secretaries) named Betsy to do additional research and schedule his appearances.
In retrospect, it’s a wonder how the beautiful Katrina managed to live as long as she did. She’s had a checkered career as an investment manager at a D.C. law firm. She inherits the fortune of Niles Holt, a much older man she marries and who conveniently ends up dead not long after. She’s stalked by a mysterious person going by the moniker “Pay Back” who may or may not be a disgruntled former client. At the time of her death, her latest husband, lawyer Chad Singleton, is in the greater D.C. area cavorting with his mistress Rachel.
When Mac Faraday is informed of his good luck, he’s basically homeless, at odds with his corrupt police department supervisor, Harold Fitzwater, and is avoiding all lawyers. Fortunately, one of the few sympathetically drawn lawyers in the novel, Ed Willingham, manages to catch up with Mac, whose sole luxury purchase after he’s handed his inheritance check is a Dodge Viper sports car. Arriving by Viper in Spencer, the former penniless ex-cop discovers he’s the owner of a magnificent estate, the Five-Star Spencer Inn and the landlord of R.C. “Archie” Monday, the very attractive and computer savvy former assistant to Robin Spencer. It doesn’t take a detective to figure out what will transpire between the two.
Soon Mac is working with his half brother David, the son of the late Pat O’Callaghan, the town’s former police chief (and Robin Spencer’s impregnator) to find out who is killing so many people in the expensive resort community. Gnarly, who is smarter than half the people in Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County — make that three-quarters of the people — turns out to be a surprisingly effective dog detective — when he’s not stealing cell phones, purses and food from Mac’s refrigerator.
“It’s Murder, My Son” is a delightful, well-written introduction to Mac Faraday. For my review of the second in the Faraday series by Lauren Carr, “Old Loves Die Hard”, check out the Huntington News Network site:www.huntingtonnews.net › Entertainment
About the author
“It’s Murder, My Son” is Lauren Carr’s third mystery novel. Carr’s first novel — “A Small Case of Murder” — was named finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Awards. Carr lives with her husband and son on a mountaintop in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. “I love a good mystery,” says Carr. “Growing up in a small community an argument at the corner store can become a murder by dinner. Making the story a reality on paper is a real thrill.” Carr’s website is www.mysterylady.net.
Editor’s note: There are no natural lakes in Maryland or West Virginia, for that matter: they’re all reservoirs, artificial lakes. Deep Creek Lake is a result of the Youghiogheny Hydroelectric Company hydroelectric project on Deep Creek in the 1920s. Deep Creek Dam, located about 8 miles north of Oakland, Maryland, consists of an earth and rock wall dam across a tributary of the Youghiogheny River. Construction of the dam began in 1923 and was completed in 1925. The hydroelectric plant became operational in 1928. The lake was purchased by the state of Maryland in 2000 from the Pennsylvania Electric Company and public access to the lake is provided by Deep Creek Lake State Park. Deep Creek Lake is the largest inland body of water in the state of Maryland and is home to a wide variety of freshwater fish and aquatic birds. It covers approximately 3,900 acres and has 69 miles of shoreline. Deep Creek Lake has evolved as the centerpiece of tourism in Western Maryland. The popular Wisp ski resort is adjacent to the lake.