Review: When the body of a woman washes ashore Longboat Key south of St. Petersburg (Florida) with the known markings of a serial killer, the local police detective is seriously troubled. For starters, she was on the team investigating the killer's previous victims … in Miami. And the last body to be discovered was 12 year ago. Why now and why here? Jennifer Diane "J. D." Duncan turns to her friend Matt Royal to help find the answers in Fatal Decree, the seventh mystery in this series by H. Terrell Griffin.
It's not likely to be the work of a copycat killer. A detail found on each of the previous victims, never released to the press and found on the present body, are the initials KKK carved into the back of the neck. The case gets even more personal for Matt when the Medical Examiner identifies the woman as Nell Alexander, the wife of an associate of Matt's close friend Jock Algren, an employee of a government agency so secret it doesn't even have a name. Matt is convinced that Jock will take any measure necessary to discover the killer and protect any perceived threat to the agency, certainly the most efficient way to deal with the problem, and one that Matt would support, though it would clearly put him at odds with J. D., who would insist that law and order, as it were, handle the matter directly.
The storyline of Fatal Decree has a kind of by-the-numbers feel to it. It's not necessarily predictable but it is familiar. And more in a good way than a bad one. But what is most surprising is how Matt has changed over the course of the series. He has definitely mellowed here, most likely due to his on-again, off-again relationship with J. D. Duncan, who was introduced in the previous book. It's not clear this is a positive development for fans of the series. It may not be fair to compare the present book to the earlier ones but Matt sure seems to have lost some of his zeal for taking risks, for living life on the edge. For a thriller, there's the requisite excitement, to be sure, yet it's all rather restrained excitement. And the future doesn't look bright either for this man of action: the last paragraph of the book is positively straight out of an everyday chick-lit romance novel. Maybe it is time for Matt to settle down, sign up for a few cooking or oil painting classes, take up gardening, and live the good life of a retired attorney on his cherished Longboat Key. Maybe even solve a cozy mystery or two with his new partner. But if so, the Matt Royal of old will be missed.
Acknowledgment: Oceanview Publishing provided an eARC of Fatal Decree for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Oceanview Publishing (Hardcover), December 2010
ISBN-13: 9781933515960; ISBN-10: 1933515961
Location(s) referenced in Fatal Decree: Sarasota, Florida
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Fatal Decree by H. Terrell Griffin — A Matt Royal Mystery
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Publication Date: January 2013
List Price: $25.95