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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Despite Intriguing Setting, Bayou Mystery Fizzles Pretty Fast For Me

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Everyone in little Cooper's Bayou, Florida, knows the story of Raylene Atchinson.  Twenty-five years ago, the young mother was raped and strangled, her dead body left on the banks of the bayou.  Raylene's 4-year-old daughter Aurora was found safe, but alone, at the local mini-mart.  Suspected of the murder, Aurora's father, disappeared, never to be heard from again.

Now a 29-year-old nurse working in New York City, Aurora returns to Cooper's Bayou to settle the estate of her recently deceased grandfather.  Having been raised away from Florida, she's disconcerted by her new surroundings.  Bordered by gator-inhabited swampland, the house she inherits spooks her even more, especially since it seems so incongruous with the grandfather she knew.  Nevertheless, Aurora stays in town, using her time to find out what really happened to her mother.

Aurora's joined by Josh Hudson, a 30-year-old police detective whose punishment for a poor decision made on the job is helping out in a dusty warehouse full of old evidence.  Haunted by his younger brother's mysterious death, Josh has his own demons to battle.  Helping Aurora on her quest helps keep them at bay.  At least temporarily.  

Combing the Evidence Room for clues about Raylene's murder, the pair stumble across some surprising finds.  The closer they get to finding out what really happened, the more dangerous their lives become.  Can they solve the mystery before they become murder victims themselves?  In a terrifying race for their lives, Aurora and Josh will do anything to stay alive long enough to find the answers they seek.

All it takes is a glance at the plot summary for The Evidence Room, a debut novel by Cameron Harvey, to see that it doesn't offer much in the way of an original premise.  The setting, however, drew me to the book.  Although the bayou backdrop could have been more vividly painted, I did enjoy it.  It wasn't enough, however, to distract me from The Evidence Room's flaws—flat characters, a predictable plot, and a disjointed mystery.  I'm not sure why I bothered finishing the novel, as it fizzled pretty quickly for me.  Bummer.

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of lots of other novels about people going home to solve family mysteries)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language, violence, and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

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