By: Eric Keith
Publisher: Ransom Note Press
Publication Date: March 2011
Reviewed by: Mary Lignor
Review Date: March 19, 2011
This book was a breath of fresh air in the present-day world of mysteries that offer a great deal of swearing combined with really grizzly murder scenes. This is a truly fantastically fun story that all readers will welcome on a quiet afternoon with no interruptions - which is, in itself, a fairly odd occurrence.
The cast of characters are nine graduates of a Detective Training School run by Damien Anderson. These folks are all sent an invitation to come to Anderson's vacation home for a "class" reunion. The home is located in an isolated spot in Northern California, and the players who arrive include: Carter Anderson, brother of Damien, who has always worked with his sibling and has never gotten over the fact that he plays second fiddle to Damien in most realms of his life; Reeve Argyle, a bodyguard for a crime boss who thinks that Reeve betrayed him; Hatter Cates, an author of supernatural mysteries who believes that the dead return to avenge their deaths; Jill Constable, a home health aide who is carrying a secret that she is willing to take to the grave; Jonas Cruz, former business partner to Bryan West, who has his very own secret; Amanda Farrell, prosecutor in the DA's office; Gideon Lake, a former priest, who is wheelchair bound due to an accident on a movie set; Bennett Nash, a smuggler on the run; and, last but not least, Bryan West, who is the owner of a detective agency. This somewhat motley crew should be announced, as each and every character plays a title role in the compelling story.
When they arrive at the vacation home, their host is nowhere to be found. He is, however, finally discovered...dead in a closet. And that's when the fun begins. Bodies begin to pile up as each graduate meets his or her death at the hands of a mysterious interloper who has decided that he/she is smarter than all the so-called detectives and cannot be caught. Soon a bridge, the only way in or out of the home, is blown up and there is a snowstorm that arrives suddenly to cover all the clues that may have been left behind. The surviving guests, of course, come to the conclusion that the murderer is one of them. But regardless of all their efforts to protect themselves, the murders continue one by one until there are only two survivors left.
They seem to think that perhaps this vendetta is somehow associated with a movie set that the graduates worked on as a project when they were attending the Training School fifteen years in the past. The movie was called Nine Man's Morris and, while on the set, a series of mysterious accidents took place. Perhaps someone connected with the film is getting even with the people he/she blames for the accidents.
Readers will not be able to stop as they'll want to know who will be the next victim, how the murder will be carried out, and who is the culprit behind the deaths. The killings are, for the most part, well thought out and not too horrible in nature, and the cast is extremely believable, allowing the plot to be extremely fast paced and enjoyable.
Quill Says: This is a great story which leads readers back to the time of Ten Little Indians, And Then There Were None, Clue and many other 'locked room' mysteries.