Friday, May 27, 2016

Ann Gabhart's "Murder Comes by Mail" - more suspense than I expected

Cover ArtIn the second Hidden Springs mystery, when Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane saves a jumper on a bridge, he doesn't care for all the glory his small town is determined to give him, especially when the man he rescued tells him he'll regret his heroics. And then mere days later, an envelope arrives in the mail with pictures of a murdered girl and a personal message to Michael. Did the man he rescued kill the girl? And when the killer strikes again, who will be next?

There was a lot more suspense in this book than I had expected, considering that the first was heavier on the mystery than the suspense. I enjoyed it; it's hard to put the book down when there's the threat of another murder hanging over the characters' heads--a threat the murderer seems all to ready to make good on.

The small town setting has a different feel than big city mysteries; the murders are more shocking, the peace more disturbed. Everyone knows what's going on; for all that it's more remote, it's impossible to live in the isolation that anonymity provides in the city. I like Michael, who is happy to live and work in the small, sleepy town in which he grew up. He's quite a pleasant contrast to the hard-bitten detective from Eagleton who likes throwing his weight around (Michael's not the only one who wanted to slug him!) Man, that man was obnoxious.

Moments of humor sprinkle the tale, but I wouldn't call it a funny book; in this case it's more like Alfred Hitcock's use of humor to provide the occasional relief of tension that ultimately heightens the suspense. To the pleasure of my detective skills, the suspect I pegged for the murderer was correct. A highly enjoyable mystery, even better than the first; I look forward to the next.

Thank you Revell for providing a free book in exchange for review; I was not required to make the review positive, and all opinions are my own.

Hidden Springs Mysteries
1. Murder at the Courthouse
2. Murder Comes by Mail

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