When I like a debut mystery, it's because the characters have depth and come alive. Meet Geneva Chase in Thomas Kies' Random Road. Geneva is almost forty, back on her hometown newspaper on Connecticut's Gold Coast. And, she's back because Geneva has almost hit bottom. She's an alcoholic whose choices are disappearing, just as newspapers are.
She's just lucky she's the only reporter covering a mass slaying in an exclusive concave. The Sheffield Post's article will read, "Six people were found brutally murdered, their nude bodies mutilated, in the exclusive gated Sheffield community of Connor's Landing." Geneva relates the story of her crumbling career, the stories she covers, and the meeting that will change her life. While her primary story will be the slaughter of three couples, she also has to cover the sentencing of a young man who killed a woman in a hit-and-run accident, the young man who receives a slap on the wrist because his wealthy father has influence. There's the interesting story of a blind woman who thwarted a burglary. The police have an on-going case involving burglaries done by the Home Alone gang. And, it's a trip to hunt for ghosts that will tie everything together in Geneva's mind.
While many writers can tell an interesting story of a reporter investigating murders, it's the rare author who can bring the sleuth alive in a debut mystery. Geneva's itch for the next story is almost as big as her urge to take the next drink. But, a reunion with an old friend from grade school, a fellow alcoholic, becomes important to her. Kies' story of damaged people coming together is an essential element of the novel. It reveals the depth in a woman who, on first glance, comes across as a hardened alcoholic reporter.
Looking for a compelling story with a complex investigator? Pick up Thomas Kies' debut, Random Road.
Random Road by Thomas Kies. Poisoned Pen Press. 2017. ISBN 9781464208003 (hardcover), 318p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received a copy to review it for a journal.