Constables in London, Ontario, see nothing devious in paraplegic Deborah Dalton’s suicide, but her husband, Fred, piques their interest after two anonymous phone calls make him look suspicious. Why is he tearing out and hauling away a pool so soon after Deborah’s death, and what about the secret apartment in his sister’s name? That’s only the start of a series of people winding up dead amid a shadow of dubious behavior: Fred’s employees skimming from jobs; Tessa enlisting Nick, Fred’s old friend, into helping her become Mrs. Fred; a blackmailer claiming to have incriminating evidence against Moira, who works for Fred; and a hefty amount of cash that may be counterfeit but most definitely doesn’t belong to the person stashing it. Natan’s book is an exemplary whodunit boasting a litany of suspects. The author capably pulls readers into the mystery within the first few pages—questioning not only the recent suicide, but also the accident that rendered Deborah paralyzed four years prior to the story’s start. The gleefully relentless mysteries are piled on one after another; Natan sustains curiosity by resolving several of the uncertainties as the story progresses and leaving just enough unknown to keep readers invested until the end.
Numerous characters are skillfully maneuvered throughout the plot, and identities remain clear and rarely confusing, making the preceding “List of Characters” (with corresponding roles) superfluous. Fred is a protagonist so charming that he woos Peggy, his company and the officer investigating the suspicious deaths. But Moira, who cares for her troubled brother, is the most prominent character, as well as the only female professional among a sea of men.
The type of mystery that other mysteries wish they could be.
Fred Dalton is a man who has it all. Owner of a highly successful construction company, he has a beautiful wife, a lovely home, and a seemingly bright future. A tragic accident that leaves his wife in a wheelchair is the catalyst that sets in motion a series of events that threaten to send Fred’s life spiraling out of control.
The Bricklayer begins with the funeral of Fred’s wife, whose mysterious death causes authorities to look at Fred as a suspect. While the stress of suspicion is disturbing enough, Fred also becomes increasingly concerned that two of his employees may be embezzling from the company. To complicate matters even further, an old friend with a checkered past suddenly comes back to town and another former acquaintance, Tessa, begins a relentless pursuit of Fred despite the recent loss of his wife.
The Bricklayer is a compelling and enjoyable thriller, filled with enough twists and turns and interesting characters to keep readers engaged. Dialogue reads naturally and the prose flows smoothly, deftly increasing the tension and intrigue all the way through to a satisfying conclusion.
The author’s talent for comprehensive and credible characterization shines, and readers will appreciate getting to know each character thoroughly. Main character Fred is drawn with a subtlety that matches his strong, reserved, and cautiously hopeful nature, and Natan writes all of her other characters with the same depth and sense of realism. The villains of the story are quietly malevolent in varying degrees. Natan draws their individual motives clearly while also maintaining a sense of humanity for some that adds clarity to their actions.
As crimes and mysteries continue to pop up all around him, Fred doggedly pursues a new life, rebuilding everything from his home to his heart, and readers will cheer on a budding romance. Natan’s protagonist is reserved and sympathetic without being stagnant or dull, and readers will surely root for his exoneration and future.
-Foreword Clarion Review