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Fatal Error

An Ali Reynolds Mystery by J. A. Jance

Fatal Error by J. A. Jance

Review: An old friend of Ali Reynolds asks for her help in tracking down her missing fiancÚ, a man she's actually never met in person, in Fatal Error, the sixth mystery in this series by J. A. Jance.

Ali is attending a training course for police officers outside Phoenix when Brenda Riley arrives and relates her strange story of agreeing to marry Richard Lattimer, only to have him suddenly disappear without a trace. Ali is incredulous that Brenda could have agreed to marry someone without ever having met him, but agrees to look into it, doing a background check on Lattimer through her boyfriend's security company. It turns out Lattimer is actually Richard Lowensdale, an unemployed aviation engineer, who apparently makes a hobby of meeting and becoming engaged to women online. But then Lowensdale is found brutally murdered in his home … and the number of suspects are many … but most particularly Ari's friend Brenda.

Fatal Error takes its time getting going. Though the promising premise is set up early, it takes well into the second half of the book before the plot kicks into gear and ratchets up the action level. There's no suspense in whodunit per se; the murder takes place around page 100 and the killer is known to the reader. But the real problem here is the multiple — far too many — passages from various points of view that drag out for extended periods of time. Scenes that could have, should have, been left to the imagination (or at the very least been glossed over in passing) are spelled out in detail, unnecessarily padding the narrative with little to contribute. Indeed, other than an appearance at the beginning and one towards the end, Ali herself is all but absent from the investigation — though homicide detective Gil Morris makes for a satisfactory substitute.

In the end, Fatal Error is a mystery that lacks substance and depth, with little to support its otherwise cleverly devised and executed plotline.

Acknowledgment: Touchstone provided a copy of Fatal Error for this review.

Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …

Mystery Book Review: Betrayal of Trust by J. A. JanceBetrayal of Trust
William Morrow (Hardcover), July 2011
ISBN-13: 9780061731150; ISBN-10: 0061731153

Location(s) referenced in Fatal Error: Phoenix, Arizona; San Diego, California

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Fatal Error by J. A. Jance

Fatal Error by An Ali Reynolds Mystery

Publisher: Touchstone
Format: Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-6381-5
Publication Date:
List Price: $25.99

Buy the Book (purchase options)

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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews

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