It's been four years since Evelyn David's last book in the Sullivan Investigations series, although in the books themselves, it's only been a few months. David brings back the familiar cast of retired cop turned private investigator Mac Sullivan, his office staff, JJ and Edgar Freed, his friends from O'Herlihy Funeral Home, including Mac's girlfriend, Rachel Brenner, and of course, Mac's true partner, his Irish Wolfhound, Whiskey. Murder Doubles Back is my favorite type of mystery, a cold case. In this story, it's a ten-year-old cold case with one of the most surprising turns I've seen in recent mysteries.
For the past ten years, Mac Sullivan has been receiving postcards every year with just one line, "Where's Amanda Norman?" Now that he's retired with his own PI agency, he's surprised the postcards followed him to his new address. Ten years earlier, Sullivan investigated a missing person's case. Amanda Norman, a fourteen-year-old, disappeared on a class trip to the Smithsonian. She was a foster child, in a new school, and no one, from foster parents to schoolmates, knew much about the girl. Now that Mac had his own business, he decided to try to find the answer to that question, "Where's Amanda Norman?"
One simple question about a cold case, and it would turn Sullivan's life upside down. It asks a question that had haunted him for ten years. Now, everyone in Mac's life would be drawn into the search, in unexpected ways. Twice, Sullivan himself is the victim in incidents as he searches for answers. Sullivan's investigation turns deadly as bodies pile up, people who were related to that original search for a missing girl.
David's story involves the search for answers, and some of those answers involve relationships. Mac asks Rachel, "What do you get out of this relationship? You cook, and I hobble around trying to recover from some injury." Jeff O'Herlihy, Mac's best friend, finds himself baffled by the recent behavior of his wife, Kathleen. And, JJ and Edgar, who work for Mac, bicker constantly. It takes a deft hand to introduce that many people, and bring all the people and their issues together in a complex story. Evelyn David manages it perfectly while including a touch of humor in the form of Edgar, a man approaching eighty who is shrewd and forward-thinking.
When authors can manage to juggle large casts, complicated stories, a fascinating dog, and traces of humor, they shouldn't wait years between books. Evelyn David's entertaining Murder Doubles Back will make readers regret four lost years.
Evelyn David's website is www.EvelynDavid.com
Murder Doubles Back by Evelyn David. Trace Evidence Press. 2013. ISBN 9780615804842 (paperback), 262p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.