Review: After his mother is convicted of the murder of a man with whom she had been having an affair — she was found rolling his body into a rug — Mike Lyons sets out to prove she couldn't have done it in Messages, a thriller by Weyman Jones.
Katherine Lyons's trial is brief and to the point. The victim, retired tennis pro Alex Reed, was a motivational speaker who was frequently hired by her company, PowerMeetings, to speak at corporate functions. Reed left an arranged meeting in the Caribbean suddenly and was next seen in Katherine's home, dead. The police learn she had been romantically involved with Reed, who is described by everyone, even Mike, as charismatic and much the ladies' man. Presenting evidence that Katherine had means, motive, and opportunity, a jury quickly convicts her of murder. But Mike believes the true murderer is still out there, someone the press is calling the "mercy killer", an animal rights activist who has been the threatening employees of a local pharmaceutical company, an important client of his mother's company.
Messages has a solid, well-developed, character-driven plot that leads readers in multiple directions, casting doubt on whether Katherine is indeed the culprit or was a potential victim. Mike's father, Katherine's estranged ex-husband Bart Lyons, is head of security for the pharmaceutical company the "mercy killer" is targeting, a man Mike hasn't seen or spoken to in years, provides him with a perspective on his mother he had never realized, a driven woman who was more than capable of killing. Yet others give Mike pause, including a police detective who is perfectly willing to accept the jury's verdict, but seems to have his own doubts about Katherine's guilt — though he believes the "mercy killer" is a far too convenient alternative.
Though Mike Lyons is the central character of Messages, he is in many ways the least interesting of the cast … and represents the weakest element of the book. Part of this depiction may be intentional by the author, to show how a relatively sheltered young man can rapidly mature in the face of adversity. Still, a more substantial character with a stronger personality would have better suited his determination — and been more consistent with his actions — to set his mother free.
Acknowledgment: Weyman Jones provided an ARC of Messages for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Messages: Long Island, New York, Netherlands Antilles
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Messages by Weyman Jones
Publisher: Five Star
Publication Date: October 2010
List Price: $25.95