The Mirror and the Mask
A Jane Lawless Mystery by Ellen Hart
Review: Jane Lawless gets to practice her investigative skills when a young woman arrives in Minneapolis looking for her long-lost stepfather and asks for her help in finding him in The Mirror and the Mask, the 17th mystery in this series by Ellen Hart.
Jane soon discovers, however, that the woman, Annie Archer, has a far more mysterious past than her stepfather Jack Bowman, who Jane learns is a prosperous real estate developer in the area. The case becomes even more complicated when Jack's current wife, who was having an affair with a co-worker, tumbles down a flight of stairs at home, and dies. Jane discovers that Jack's former wife, Annie's mother, also died under suspicious circumstances. Did Jack kill both his wives? And does Annie suspect his involvement in her mother's death, and is looking for him to exact some sort of revenge?
The cleverly, and appropriately, titled The Mirror and the Mask is a wonderfully crafted character study, with intertwining interpersonal relationships that are not readily untangled. True, it is also a murder mystery, but this aspect of the story is clearly secondary to the elaborate web of Annie's past history and current situation. The reader knows Annie is clearly lying to Jane, and Jane knows she's lying to her, but to what end? Jane muses at one point, "Humans were never simple. Or logical. And there was never just one. Of anyone." The plot twists are unexpected, the final resolution somewhat less so.
Jane's friend Cordelia also plays a significant role here, but it is the subplot involving her niece Hattie that offers a striking and memorable familial contrast to the story. It's quite charming, and a rewarding way to end a most satisfying novel.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of The Mirror and the Mask for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), December 2007
ISBN-13: 9780312349455; ISBN-10: 0312349459
The Cruel Ever After
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), December 2010
ISBN-13: 9780312614768; ISBN-10: 0312614764
Location(s) referenced in The Mirror and the Mask: Minneapolis, Minnesota
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The Mirror and the Mask by Ellen Hart — A Jane Lawless Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: November 2009
List Price: $25.99