A Crack in Everything
A Susan Callisto Mystery by Angela Gerst
Review: Political consultant Susan Callisto's latest client is channeling his inner Clint Eastwood, running for mayor to change the zoning law in his town, but is murdered before a single vote can be cast in A Crack in Everything, the first mystery in this series by Angela Gerst.
Susan is an attorney by training, but has begun to branch out into a potentially more lucrative field, political consulting. Charles "Chaz" Renfrow is her newest client, the CEO of a biotechnology company in suburban Boston, who wants to expand his operation but is prevented from doing so by the local mayor. Seeing a way around the problem by running for mayor himself, he seeks Susan's help. A $20,000 check helps secure her agreement, though time is very short before the filing deadline, and she doesn't think she can be of much help in speeding the process up. The next day things start to get complicated when Chaz's assistant is found dead in the trunk of her car. And then things start to get really complicated when Chaz is murdered a day later. And then things start to get really, really complicated when Susan's ex-boyfriend, a police detective, is assigned to the case.
There is a lot of story packed into this mystery. Susan has a troubled personal life, suffering from bouts of insomnia, and pours all her energies into her work. Real estate law pays the bills but privacy law is her passion, with political consulting a relatively new professional venture. All these activites come into play here, and it takes some time before it becomes clear that they're linked in unexpected ways. That sometimes makes for really circuitous, often apparently unrelated, storylines that tend to play out just a little too long, especially since a critical plot point hinges on something Susan, an experienced attorney, inexplicably fails to do: sign a contract, or at the very least offer an itemized receipt, for her services, relying instead on a handshake with someone, who is murdered a day or so later. This action — or, more appropriately, inaction — leads to a steady stream of interactions Susan has with others, including her ex-boyfriend, a detective investigating the case, who claim the check she accepted was for doing something else entirely. And of course she has no proof otherwise. These scenes are amusingly diverting, but it's hard to reconcile that this detail-oriented character would fail to do something so expected and obvious of her … except that it's necessary for the plot to advance as it does. Still, A Crack in Everything is cleverly devised and constructed, if a bit too busy at times, and readers will be rewarded when everything, as it were, comes together in the end.
Acknowledgment: Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity provided a copy of A Crack in Everything for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in A Crack in Everything: Boston, Massachusetts
— ♦ —
A Crack in Everything by Angela Gerst — A Susan Callisto Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: September 2011
List Price: $24.95
— ♦ —
Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites