Laura McClendon,
Too Many Secrets
(TurnKey, 2005)

Cassandra Masters, in her mid-20s, was happily married and attending medical school in Florida when she found out, happily, she was expecting. Eight years later, her husband died unexpectedly, Cassandra dropped out of medical school, she and her daughter moved to the area around Saratoga, N.Y., and she established a strong reputation in her new role as private investigator.

A local doctor, who donated to charity, regularly provided medical advice on local television shows and was working on a syndicated TV deal, is found murdered, execution-style. The man is close to sainthood in the eyes of the general public. Who would want to kill him? When evidence surfaces pointing toward the good doctor having one, or many, extramarital affairs, the police turn to the widow as a possible suspect, and the widow turns to Cassandra.

Cassandra reluctantly takes the case, as the wealthy widow started off on the wrong foot by invading Cassandra's privacy in her zeal to hire her, but the case turns out to be very interesting. As the title suggests, the more Cassandra delves, the more secrets she uncovers. There are attempts to bribe her, intimidate her and possibly kill her. The late good doctor was quite the enterprising man and had learned far too much about far too many people. Which one had a secret big enough to kill the doctor? Which one didn't?

This is a very well-written murder-mystery, with several surprises. It is quite heavy on character development, which might make it too detailed and a bit slow for some readers, but there was enough action, mystery and surprises for me, and I enjoyed most of the character development. I did think there was a bit too much emphasis on the relationship between Cassandra and her sometimes-partner David, who was Cassandra's late husband's best friend and who is an unofficial uncle to Cassandra's daughter, but I am guessing this book might be the beginning of a series about Cassandra, with David an ongoing main character. Cassandra, as a character, ends up being respectable, not superhuman, mildly flawed and generally admirable; in other words, she is a three-dimensional character.

I did solve one of the mysteries fairly early, and apparently earlier than Cassandra, but there were still plenty of surprises left to uncover. While not outstanding or unforgettable, this was a very good murder-mystery populated with interesting characters.

by Chris McCallister
19 May 2007

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