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Naming the Hangman (The Eckart Mysteries Book 2) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 419 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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I really love spending time with Amber. She's so realistic. And there's a vicarious satisfaction when she really, really wants to kick someone's ass who really has it coming. But she's smart enough to restrain herself too, well, the times that is the smart thing. I also really enjoy the sarcastic humor among the characters, and how each of the supporting cast feel like individuals with their own personalities. I laughed out loud in several places. I also may have cheered a couple times.
Amber's friend Mattie is hilarious, and I enjoyed their interaction. Both are smart, tough, take-no-shit women with hearts in the right places.
In this story Amber catches a case which involves the death of a woman the local police rule a suicide surprisingly quickly and with only a very cursory investigation. Soon Amber finds evidence the death was indeed a murder, evidence the police should have caught if they'd bothered to give the body an adequate examination before closing the case.
Why would someone want this woman dead, and then stage the death to look like a suicide? Are the local police lazy and inept, it is a small town after all, or is there something more sinister going on there?
Amber pokes around, and unsurprisingly someone who doesn't want the truth uncovered doesn't appreciate it. And soon there's action and danger in the mix.
This is another book I really didn't want to put down once I started. It draws you in, and moves at a steady pace, but not so fast that you don't get a good feel for the characters.
This is a murder mystery, and the details of the murder are sad and unpleasant. Although we're not shown the murder as it occurs, we do learn about the harm done to this poor woman in the aftermath, and it's not pretty. But it's handled with respect, and isn't anything out of the ordinary for this genre.
And there's just enough humor and likable characters mixed in with the dark crime and heart-pounding danger to give the reader some comic relief here and there.
"Naming the Hangman" is the second Amber Eckart book, and in a not-common case, it's better than the first. It also stands alone; you don't have to have read Margin Play for it to make sense.
"Hangman" is darker and has sharper edges, certainly; Amber is investigating a drug-related murder, not white-collar crime as in Margin Play, and the bad guys are correspondingly nastier and more brutal. But it's not darker just to be darker; the tension and harshness are organic to the situation. Plume doesn't allow the darkness to take over, either; Amber's characteristic sarcastic humor and sharp wit still make their appearances, as does her practice of keeping her plans as vaguely general outlines rather than detailed scenarios until she knows exactly what she's gotten into this time. Sometimes it works out for her, sometimes it doesn't.
The plot is tight and seamless, starting with a lawyer on a do-good campaign hiring Amber to investigate whether the death of his client's wife on Whidby Island was a suicide, as the police have ruled; or a murder, as the widow believes. The more she looks, the more she finds that points away from suicide, and the situation just gets uglier and more dangerous from there.
Plume's characters are, as before, richly detailed and complex. Izzy and Julian are back, although the Whidbey Island setting keeps them out of the spotlight -- they're holding down the office in Seattle. Drake and Kasey make cameo appearances. But it's the new characters: Mattie, Amber's former professor, friend, and host on the Island; 'Shelle, the widow determined to find the truth; Xander, the "bad boy" who holds the vital bit of information; Deputy Stone, Lieutenant Strandell, Irish Bob, Kevin Anderson... none of them cutouts, each with a distinctive voice and presence, all of them complex yet self-consistent.
If you enjoy noir-style detective fiction, this is one to read. If you don't already enjoy noir, be aware, "Hangman" may prove to be that first addicting hit.
Still had to knock off a star because of the awkwardness to some of the speech patterns and inner dialogue but again, much improved from the first book. If Mr. Plume improves even more from this book to the next one, I'll be hooked for life and he'll get nothing but crazy raving fangirl 5 star reviews out of me.