Review: Laurel Dewey's debut mystery novel, Protector, is an exciting, intriguing, and sometimes frightening thriller.
Chris Crawley and Jane Perry, partners in the Denver Police Department, are hardened, leathery, obscene talking detectives who have worked together for years. Off duty Jane drinks entirely too much whiskey and is a chain smoker. Their current case is an unsolved murder of a protected informant facing trial, plus his wife and ten-year-old daughter. The clues for discovering who the culprits are in this case just do not fit together. Before they can even begin to nail down a suspect, another seemingly innocent husband and wife are killed. Their nine and one half-year-old daughter, Emily, hid in an upstairs closet under blankets surviving the attack. Dewey steers the reader through the trauma and heartbreak of Emily's experience. Even before Jane and Emily know each other they appear to have a psychic connection. Jane, who at the age of ten began having an extremely unhappy and troublesome childhood, can understand Emily's dilemma. Emily is then placed in Jane's protective custody. It is a fascinating story to see how Jane and Emily realize there is a connection and how they act upon it.
Though the mystery in Protector is about the investigation of the gruesome murders of five people who appear to be innocent victims and the intense search for the criminals responsible, the heart of the novel concerns Jane and Emily. The young girl is a witness to one of the crimes, but this tableau is locked deep in her subconscious. Jane is ordered by her superiors to take Emily to a safe-house away from Denver where she is to care for her, watch her, and above all try to help her remember what happened the night her parents were killed.
Jane, a single woman, is hardly the motherly type. Her home looks like a disaster hit it. Empty beer bottles, whiskey bottles, overloaded ashtrays, empty pizza boxes, and more fill every open space. She can't cook so orders in pizza, buys frozen entrees to microwave, and burns toast. In contrast, Emily grew up with a mother who would put Martha Stewart to shame. This contrast is just one of the situations in which Jane and Emily have to face when they move to a safe house in a small town in Colorado. They have to change their names so Jane becomes Anne, mother to Emily now Patty. Jane trusts no one in this small city, not even the sheriff, but Emily embraces folks as old friends. What happens in the weeks following their arrival was sometime humorous, sometimes childish, and sometimes downright scary. Somewhere along the way, Jane's and Emily's minds miraculously began to connect. They were able to understand each other without words or signs. Because of the connection, Emily was able to recall the night her parents were killed and she could finally identify the killer. In an awesome scene at the town's water tower, Jane truly became Emily's protector.
Dewey has included other important and worthwhile characters in the story, but in the end it is the relationship between Jane and Emily that makes Protector a great novel and a fabulous mystery.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Protector.
Acknowledgment: Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity provided a copy of Protector for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Story Plant (Hardcover), June 2009
ISBN-13: 9780981608754; ISBN-10: 0981608752
Location(s) referenced in Protector: Denver, Colorado
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Protector by Laurel Dewey — A Jane Perry Mystery
Publisher: ATN Group Publishing
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $19.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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