Sunday Salon provides the perfect opportunity to introduce debut authors. And, I can think of some journalists who have successfully written crime fiction. Michael Connelly, Brad Parks, and Hank Phillippi Ryan are names that immediately come to mind. I know there are dozens of others. Now, Todd Ritter has the opportunity to join their ranks with his mystery, Death Notice.
There had never been a murder in the quaint town of Perry Hollow, Pennsylvania. Police chief Kat Campbell knew the history of the mill town, since her grandparents met at the lumber mill, and her father was once the police chief. And, she recognized most of the residents of the small town. So, Kat was as shocked as everyone else when a trucker found a coffin at the edge of town, with a local farmer in it. The murder was horrible enough to call in the sheriff, who turned it over to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Criminal Investigation. As head of the task force, Nick Donnelly suspected the death was at the hands of a serial killer dubbed "The Betsy Ross Killer," due to his skill in using a needle and thread on his victims. But, even Nick wasn't prepared when Henry Goll walked in the door, with a warning. Goll wrote the obituaries for the local newspaper, but he had never received a fax that predicted a death before.
Donnelly's task force was expected to handle the investigation. However, Chief Campbell became a partner in the case when she insisted on protecting her town. She pointed out she knew the citizens. But, she couldn't protect everyone from a killer determined to spread terror. And, she and Donnelly reluctantly accepted Goll as part of their case when the killer seemed to target him to receive messages.
Ritter avoids rookie mistakes in this compelling mystery. Kat, Donnelly, and Goll are all fascinating characters with weaknesses that make them all the more interesting. Kat, with a special needs child, is particularly aware of her complex role as a single mother and a police chief. And, each time I thought I knew where the case was going, the author threw in a twist. Those twists made perfect sense at the end of this successful debut.
Since I often review cozy mysteries, I feel compelled to say some of the details in this book can be grisly. But, it's a well-written crime novel, riveting enough that I read it in one sitting. So, I'll put you on notice. Todd Ritter's Death Notice will be joining the ranks of other successful first novels by journalists turned mystery writer.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
I will not review self-published books, and, at the present time, do not accept books in e-book format.
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.