Monday, September 2, 2013

Gingerbread Man by Maggie Shayne

I had been going through a real dry patch lately with free Kindle books, as well as the ones offered in the Prime members lending library.  But as they say, when it rains, it pours, and there have been some really great thriller/horror offerings as of late.

Next up is Gingerbread Man, by Maggie Shayne.  Murder mystery in a small town...doesn't get much better than that.  Detective Vince O'Mally is strung out and overworked, after promising a distraught mother he would find her missing children.  He finds them alright...both dead in an abandoned warehouse.  His department forces him to take some time off, but he has a different plan.  He found an old children's book at the murder scene, which he traces to a nearby small town, Dilmun.

He rents a house on lake, planning on researching the murders on his own from a distance, as well as digging into the origin of the book.  It all links him back to a troubled woman named Holly, who lost her sister to a kidnapping, and presumed murder, at a young age.  As Vince and Holly dig into the long-cold case, they realize that they may have pinned the wrong man for the murder, and that the real kidnapper/killer may still be on the loose.

Not only are secrets seemingly being covered up in this small town, but there are lots of interesting characters in the mix, including an aging horror film star, his oddly-behaving niece, a Native American doctor, Holly's overprotective uncle, and a whole bunch of people that want Vince to stop putting his nose where it doesn't belong.  Will they find the real killer?

I really liked this book overall, and it was a fast-paced and interesting thriller.  I think the culprit was well-positioned and I was pretty surprised to see who it was.  There were a lot of creepy little elements, and that small-town, almost Twin Peaks-dynamic that definitely added to the story.     The book was a good length, and everything tied up nicely.

However **SPOILER ALERT** there were a couple things that kinda bugged me a little about this story.  First, how did this girl not recognize her own sister?  I have known my sister for 27 years and I would recognize her anywhere even if we hadn't seen each other in years. Or even the mom? And no one else saw the resemblance or the coincidence of her disappearance and subsequent return?  Secondly, I felt that, while the romance between Vince and Holly sizzled somewhat, they fell into bed far too quickly and awkwardly.  First this chick is a sheltered little mouse that gets scared at the drop of a pin, then she suddenly turns seductress?