Smell of Death
A Rocky Bluff Police Department Mystery by F. M. Meredith
Review: Smell of Death is the fourth mystery in this series by F. M. Meredith featuring the investigative efforts of a police department in the (fictional) small coastal community of Rocky Bluff in southern California.
A veritable crime wave has struck Rocky Bluff. The brutal double murder of a mother and daughter, in separate locations and using different means, has the police department baffled. A series of daring home burglaries has taken place with two things in common: the thefts occur while the homeowners are present and the burglars leave behind bare footprints. A child has gone missing, presumably kidnapped, though no ransom demand is made. And then there are the assorted petty crimes that keep officers busy day and night.
Smell of Death is written largely in the style of a television crime drama. Reading the book is not unlike watching a show; both can be accomplished in one sitting and both typically have an intriguing start and a conclusion that wraps up all loose ends. In this regard, Smell of Death works as a pleasant way of spending a couple of hours.
As a police procedural, Smell of Death often gives up too much information to the reader, leaving very little in the way of suspense. The culprits are known to the reader well before the officers investigating the crime are aware of them. This approach can be quite successful (such as in the Columbo series of television mysteries) but here it's a bit flat possibly because there are too many officers investigating too many cases. To her credit, the author cleverly links everything together in the end, but it seems almost contrived by this point.
The personal lives of these officers are also explored. In contrast to the professional aspects of the story which seem genuine and real, these personal stories don't ring true at all. Fortunately, they don't take up all that much of the narrative but are somewhat distracting nonetheless.
Acknowledgment: Marilyn Meredith provided a copy of Smell of Death for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Smell of Death: California
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Smell of Death by F. M. Meredith — A Rocky Bluff Police Department Mystery
Publisher: Tigress Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: December 2007
List Price: $13.95