Thread of Hope
A Joe Tyler Mystery by Jeff Shelby
Review: Ex-cop Joe Tyler, an unlicensed private investigator searching the country for his missing daughter, returns to San Diego to help a friend, who is in a coma after being beaten by two unknown assailants, in Thread of Hope, possibly the first in a new series by Jeff Shelby.
The police don't seem overly concerned with finding Chuck Winslow's attackers. Winslow, a volunteer girls basketball coach at Coronado High School, was out on bail after being arrested for beating Meredith Jordan, a female student with whom he may have been having an inappropriate relationship. Joe doesn't believe Winslow capable to such an act, and sets out to learn the truth from the only other person involved, Meredith. But just a day after Joe starts asking questions, Meredith disappears, prompting her father, a wealthy real estate developer, to hire Joe to find her.
Thread of Hope is a superior mystery from a plot perspective, one that takes unexpected turns that lead to surprising outcomes. The clues to what really happened are deftly hidden in plain sight, with plenty of clever misdirection to keep the reader off guard. Joe follows his leads where they take him, making calculated — if not always wise — decisions as to next steps in his investigation. It's really well done.
The only weakness to this book — and it's not a terribly significant one — is the character of Joe Tyler. He's stereotypically conflicted, as so many PIs are these days, though it's hard not to sympathize with his predictament: his daughter, 8 years old at the time, disappeared without a trace from their front yard seven years ago, and he's been looking for her since. He's learned something from his time in the field, as it were: he's good at finding children. "Ironic, huh?" he says to his ex-wife. "The only one I can't find is our daughter. Anyone else, I can help them." It's actually an interesting premise for a series, having Joe travel the country helping others while he searches for his daughter. But he's quick to anger, using his strength to beat the answers out of those he questions or finds impeding his investigation, rather than using his brains to outsmart them. It's particularly disturbing in Thread of Hope, for example, when he beats up a (male) high school senior, a legal adult at 18-years-old to be sure, but still. It's easy to admire his dedication to the task at hand; it's hard to accept some of the methods he uses to accomplish it. (For what it's worth, all Joe's other targets were his own age, and probably deserved what they got.)
Though there is no confirmation this is the first in a series to feature Joe Tyler, the book ends with a possible clue to his daughter's whereabouts, leading him off to another part of the country … and presumably a second mystery. It will be eagerly anticipated and impatiently awaited.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Tyrus Books (Hardcover), September 2011
ISBN-13: 9781935562399; ISBN-10: 1935562398
Jeff Shelby (Ebook), June 2012
ISBN-13: ; ISBN-10:
Location(s) referenced in Thread of Hope: San Diego, California
— ♦ —
Thread of Hope by Jeff Shelby — A Joe Tyler Mystery
Publisher: Jeff Shelby
Publication Date: December 2011
List Price: $3.99