Scheduled To Die
A Carter Mays Mystery by Alan Cupp
Review: Finishing up a business trip in Asheville, North Carolina, Dana Carrington is dining alone in a restaurant when a good-looking man asks to join her. She agrees, and he introduces himself as Mike Sweeney. They quickly find a common bond: they're both from Chicago, though Mike now lives in Asheville. After dinner, Mike accompanies Dana to her hotel room, where he whispers in her ear, "You're the one. The one I've chosen to kill." Dana tries to break free, but not before he jabs a needle in her neck, in Scheduled To Die, the second mystery in this series featuring PI Carter Mays by Alan Cupp.
When Dana awakens, she's strapped to a chair. Mike calmly tells her that in one year's time, he will kill her. But in the meantime, she's to have the time of her life. Only she can't tell anyone, most especially the police. He then shows her graphic photos of two other women, dead by his hand, because they, too, were offered a chance to live a full, if also brief, life but instead chose to go to the police. He then releases her and says he'll be watching. Dana returns to Chicago, where she confesses what happened to her best friend Erin. Erin, who strongly urges Dana to call the police anyway, gets in touch with Carter Mays, who agrees to quietly look into the man's background, to see how much of what he told her may be true. It turns out pretty much all of it. He discovers the identity of the two women in the photos shown to Dana, and realizes that he's dealing with a serial killer. When Mike Sweeney finds out Dana has hired Carter, he takes it out on Erin, nearly killing her, which brings in the police anyway. Carter has to act quickly in coming up with the killer's real identity if he's going to prevent Dana from suffering the same fate as the other women in Mike Sweeney's life.
Scheduled To Die has an intriguing premise for a crime novel. The setup and early execution of it goes well, with the narrative moving along at a brisk pace, steadily ramping up the suspense. But about halfway through, there's a hint at where the story is going and how it will play out, and it's not promising at all. Instead of continuing in a new and original direction, as one might hope, the story takes a turn down a well-worn path, employing a plot device that really isn't worthy of the rather imaginative premise. The author does attempt to put the most positive spin possible on his use of said plot device, mixing things up a bit, as it were — and there is a memorable line towards the end, possibly the best of the book: "I lost a damn coin toss, before I was even old enough to call it.", so that's something — but it doesn't lessen the disappointment that he resorted to using it in the first place.
Acknowledgment: Henery Press provided an ARC of Scheduled To Die for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Scheduled To Die: Asheville, NC; Chicago, IL
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Scheduled To Die by Alan Cupp — A Carter Mays Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: June 2015
List Price: $15.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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