The Book of Judges by Traci Tyne Hilton is a Maura Garrison Mystery. No one believed Maura Garrison when she suspected her husband Rick of cheating, but when her fears are confirmed she takes refuge in her office and grabs his cat as collateral. The last thing Maura wants to do is to see him, but with her private investigator business desperately needing money, she takes a case from Linda Smith to solve the murder of Adam Demarcus before the press can tear apart the organization they created. The same organization of which Rick is apart. As Maura digs further into Adam's life, she's brought into a world of religion and well-mannered do-gooders. Only one problem. Everyone seemed to love him, but someone wanted him dead and she might be next.
Traci Tyne Hilton introduces Maura's story with quite the dramatic moment as Maura discovers her husband is cheating with his intern, which sets the tone for the rest of the story. Hilton strikes a balance with Maura's emotional personal journey and the murder mystery that brings her deeper into danger. Maura's voice is honest and genuine with her emotional state reflecting how the case progresses. Maura reacts to each situation with a realistic blend of anger and hurt, wit and sleuthing brilliance. Hilton gives her a sincere voice that allows you to get angry with her as she works the case and through the pain from her marriage. Maura is understandably bitter and angry, but pushes through her own pain in order to take this case and though she remains suspicious of everyone, she gives a certain amount of sympathy and compassion to each suspect.
A majority of the story is rooted in lies and has most of the characters hiding something that Maura slowly uncovers. Many of the characters are perceived in a certain light due to their religion or beliefs, but Hilton twists these perceptions and shows a more layered aspect to the characters' personalities. Maura's husband is a bit of an enigma as he charms and persuades people through the church, but then Hilton flips this by showing another side to him. Hilton opens up a thought-provoking mystery in The Book of Judges, exploring the idea of forgiveness and belief through Maura's personal relationships. A must-read for mystery lovers!
Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Notes from the BookLife Prize Critic's Report
Plot: Hilton's novel is well plotted and fast paced. The story will keep readers guessing until the end.
Prose: Hilton's prose is beautiful and clever. She draws readers into the story with vivid descriptions of places and emotion states.
Originality: Hilton's subject matter is not new, but her novel is well written and enjoyable.