An Allison Campbell Mystery by Wendy Tyson
Review: Image consultant Allison Campbell is surprised to hear that a former boyfriend, someone she hadn't seen in four years, has been murdered. But what really shocks her is that he had written her name onto his calendar for the day he was killed, suggesting they had an appointment, or in the eyes of his wife, were rekindling their romantic relationship, in Dying Brand, the third mystery in this series by Wendy Tyson.
Allison is able to convince the police she had nothing to do with Scott Fairweather's death, but Leah, his widow, is another matter. Though she has no formal involvement at all with the investigation, Allison can't help but wonder why Scott had her name in his calendar. And why was he in that particularly rough neighborhood at that time of night? She begins asking questions of those who knew Scott, but gets nowhere with the information she receives. Meanwhile, someone is sending her — and her associates and friends — intimate photographs of Allison and Scott, taken during their time together. When the police focus on a group of young teens as the culprits, Allison is convinced they are wrong, that someone she is involved, if only peripherally, in his death, but has no credible alternative to offer them.
Dying Brand is a very complicated mystery, probably more so than it really needs to be. But for those who may have read the excellent previous books in this series, its greatest fault is that it suffers in comparison to them. The murder has already taken place before the book starts, and Allison is quickly drawn into the dynamics of the case, so it feels like a strong start. But after the first couple of chapters, it grinds forward very slowly. Part of the problem here is that a significant portion of the narrative is focused on Allison's current relationship with her ex-husband Jason, who also receives photos of her and Scott, complicating their nascent reconciliation; and her associate Vaughn's romantic relationship with Jason's mother. And if that weren't enough, Allison's drug-addicted sister enters the picture, needing help but not the kind Allison is prepared to offer; and Vaughn's paralyzed brother, who is instrumental in doing research for Allison, is apparently madly in love with his primary caretaker, a turn Vaughn is deeply suspicious of. There's a sense that the author wants to shake things up here, that maybe these characters need to move on with their lives (with or without their current partners) and is taking an opportunity to do it all at once. And while character development is important, here it seems to take a higher priority than the murder investigation itself. And maybe that's because the murder investigation really isn't all that compelling. Sure, there's the whole who's sending photographs of Allison and Scott and why, and the issue of Allison's name being inexplicably marked into Scott's calendar, but the resolution to these potentially intriguing plot points is actually incidental, and disappointing as a result. This has been, to date, a solid series and one can only hope that the next book returns Allison to practicing her considerable sleuthing skills over dealing with an odd assortment of personal issues.
Acknowledgment: Henery Press provided an ARC of Dying Brand for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Henery Press (Trade Paperback), July 2014
ISBN-13: 9781940976211; ISBN-10: 1940976219
A Muddied Murder
Henery Press (Trade Paperback), March 2016
ISBN-13: 9781635110050; ISBN-10: 163511005X
Location(s) referenced in Dying Brand: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Dying Brand by Wendy Tyson — An Allison Campbell Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 2015
List Price: $15.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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