When Marquitta “Skeet” Bannion left family and her job as a Kansas City Homicide Detective for being the Chief of Police Chouteau University, she thought she would be able to leave all the bad stuff behind and make a fresh start. It hasn’t worked out that way as pulls back to Kansas City keep making their presence felt. She was sure that, at least, she would be able to leave violent death and murder behind. The fact that the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, Andrew McAffe, is very much dead according to rookie Police Officer Dave Parker proves her wrong. Who killed him by bashing his head in and why he or she did it will be her focus of her investigation.
Figuring it out will be much easier said than done. The victim, who had recently been in a fight with his news editor, was certainly no saint. Not only was the victim accused of various thefts and at least one sexual assault, he had his fingers in a lot of areas. As Police Chief Bannion digs into the case no secret is safe and the list of suspects grows. So too does her frustration with those who are much more concerned about politics and alumnae fundraising than finding a murderer. A murderer that clearly isn’t about to stop.
For some reason there is a blurb on this book comparing this novel to the works of Nevada Barr and Sara Paretsky. One can only conclude that comparison is made because the lead character in all cases is a female fighting, among other things, male disrespect. While being compared to New York Times bestselling authors is nice, that comparison does not address the actual storyline, type of characters involved, settings, and other elements of the book that have nothing in common with the aforementioned writers.
The novel does remind one of the excellent Sheriff Rhodes series written by Bill Crider. Both feature small police departments led by non-political bosses who are straightforward, make pains to point out to suspects that all secrets eventually come out, and understand that behind the public façade a far different person often exists. Rhodes and Bannion ask lots of questions, expect dishonesty from those often trying to hide other things that have no relation to the actual case, and both use stress reliving tactics while thinking about the case. Sheriff Rhodes sits out on the back porch and plays with his dogs while ruminating on the case. Police Chief Bannion puts music on, picks up her knitting needles, and goes to work while ruminating on the case.
“Winner of the Malice Domestic First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition” Every Last Secret is a strong debut novel featuring an interesting main character as well as numerous interesting secondary characters. The characters involved are multi dimension and complicated, like people in real life, and it does not take long at all for these characters to become very real in the reader’s mind. The action moves forward at a steady pace while gradually the character’s back stories come into pay adding depth and nuance to the work. Just under 300 pages the read is over way too soon leaving the reader wanting more.
Every Last Secret
Thomas Dunne Books (Minotaur Books)
Hardback (also available as e-book)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2012