When the Devil Doesn't Show
Review: Three home invasions with common elements seem to suggest they are related. But they also bear marks unique to each, making the identification of the culprits all that more difficult for Santa Fe police detective Gil Montoya and his partner Joe Phillips, in When the Devil Doesn't Show, the third mystery in this series by Christine Barber.
Gil and Joe are drawn to the first house after a blaze, which had been set there, is put out by firefighters. Two men are found in the dining room bound to chairs by duct tape, one mutilated in a manner to suggest a hate crime. But the real puzzle is a third man found hung in an upstairs bedroom, apparently burned alive and the cause of the fire. At the second crime scene, a single man is found bound to a chair by duct tape. And finally, at the third crime scene, a couple are taken hostage, the man found bound by duct tape to a chair while his wife escapes with their children. In all three instances, the bound men were all killed with a small caliber shot to the head. There are no obvious connections between the dead men, each working for a different company or, in the case of one of the men, as a consultant to a film company making a movie in the area. It isn't until a fourth victim is found, this one shot but not dead, that Gil and Joe start to put the pieces together.
When the Devil Doesn't Show is told from the perspective of about half a dozen or so characters, making it a little tricky to follow at times. The murder investigation itself is very compelling, a real puzzle for the two strongly developed and appealing detectives in charge … and a puzzle for the reader, too, though a few too many clues are dropped along the way so that it really isn't a surprise when the motive to the crimes is discovered. The numerous subplots involving the supporting cast are interesting in and of themselves but really add little value to the story; most seem intended to provide a backstory to a specific character so when they make an appearance in, or contribution to, the case they don't just appear out of nowhere, as it were. Still, a fine mystery overall, one that incorporates both the regional and cultural aspects of its setting and more importantly, cleverly integrates them in a seamless manner throughout.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of When the Devil Doesn't Show for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in When the Devil Doesn't Show: Santa Fe, New Mexico
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When the Devil Doesn't Show by Christine Barber — A Gil Montoya Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: April 2013
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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