Gerrie Ferris Finger's first mystery, The End Game, introduced Moriah Dru, the ex-cop who started Child Trace, a specialty private investigative agency, and her lover, Richard Lake, an Atlanta Detective Lieutenant in Homicide. Many of Moriah's cases are for the juvenile justice system. In Murmurs of Insanity, though, she juggles one case of a juvenile drug runner who has disappeared, and one case as a favor for Lake. That case is enough to drive anyone insane.
Lake's ex-wife's half-brother, Baxter Carlisle, has been accused of stalking a college student. The wealthy restaurant owner denies it, but when the student's boyfriend, Damian Hansel, disappears, Baxter is the primary suspect. He doesn't take it seriously, but Moriah does. It seems both college students were artists. When traces of Damian start to show up; his cell phone, then some clothes, Moriah, Damian's father, and the police think something is seriously wrong. Baxter hires Moriah to prove he has nothing to do with Damian's disappearance. But, did he have anything to do with the death of another student artist? And, then Moriah's employee, a computer expert, finds that Damian's girlfriend doesn't really exist.
If all of this sounds confusing, it is. The investigation covers two Georgia cities, and Moriah is called back to Atlanta to deal with the missing juvenile drug runner. Drugs, the strange world of performance art, and murder make for an uneasy mix in this book. Moriah Dru specializes in cases involving juveniles, and Finger had to stretch to bring her into Baxter Carlisle's case. I'm not saying murder investigations aren't messy. But, the combination of these two cases didn't work for me.
Perhaps Murmurs of Insanity will work for someone who reads more for plot than character. Although I liked Finger's first book, The End Game, and have followed Moriah Dru and Richard Lake in the others in this series, I couldn't feel a great deal of sympathy for the characters in this one. When I see that the book is suggested for fans of Dennis Lehane, I think fans of Shutter Island, not fans of the Kenzie/Gennaro series. I would recommend it to suspense readers who enjoy novels with a warped, psychological bent.
Gerrie Ferris Finger's website is www.gerrieferrisfinger.com
Murmurs of Insanity by Gerrie Ferris Finger. Five Star. 2014. ISBN 9781432828585 (hardcover), 308p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.