Saturday, February 15, 2014

Under A Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes

Morden Village is appalled at what has occurred.  Two deaths in one night are far from the norm for a small village in rural England.  The first death discovered is a young woman named Polly.  She worked as a groom for family friends, the Maitlands, who run a horse farm to make money for traveling.  Polly is adventurous, not only by her travels but her love life, having affairs with both men and women and refusing to even think of being exclusive with anyone.  Hours later, a woman who lived across the lane from the Maitlands, Barbara Fletcher-Norman is discovered in the wreckage of her car, an apparent suicide.  The two families are old friends, having lived as neighbors for decades.  Nigel Maitland and Brian Fletcher-Norman are both confident, wealthy men.  Their daughters, Flora Maitland and Taryn Fletcher-Norman, are best friends.  Are there other links tying these two deaths together?

The case is assigned to Detective Chief Louisa Smith, her first case.  Lou, as she likes to be known, is anxious to solve the cases and make a good impression.  She must handle all the myriad details of the investigation while assigning work to her detectives and other resources and being responsible for the teamwork of her officers.  The cases get more complicated as evidence starts to show that they are related instead of separate incidents.  As the team delves deeper, the secrets of the village start to emerge and the team must determine which secrets are crucial to the investigation and which are just incidental.  Polly had affairs with at least three of the people involved, and there is evidence of other ties between those involved.  Can Louisa and her team solve the murder satisfactorily?

Elizabeth Haynes started her career as a police intelligence analyst, and that background is demonstrated in the novel.  Interspersed in the flow are documents that would be found in a police investigation, witness statements, phone messages, police reports, timelines and analysis of phone records.  This adds to the veracity of the investigation and helps the reader imagine exactly how the police procedures work in a murder case.  Although released as Haynes fourth book, this is actually her first, written during the annual novel writing contest, NaNoWriMo, held each November.  This book is recommended for mystery lovers.

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