A Harper and Lane Mystery by Tony Healey
Review: Jane Harper, a detective with the small, picturesque town of Hope's Peak, NC Police Department, and her partner Stu Raley are given the assignment to investigate the violent murders of two young black woman, in Hope's Peak, the first mystery in this series by Tony Healey.
The victims had been raped and strangled, and left with a crown of twigs on their heads. A witness said she had seen one of the murders, the killer wearing a pillow case (or a white cloth of some kind) with two holes cut out for his eyes and held in place by his belt around his neck. It reminded her of the KKK of years ago. Harper's boss, Captain Morelli, told Harper where she could find an old file locked in the basement of the precinct. It told of similar cases investigated years ago by a now retired detective. Those cases were covered up by powerful people, including the mayor at that time, because Hope's Peak is a tourist attraction town and they didn't want to scare people away. He then told Harper and Stu about Ida Lane, whose mother was the first victim found in 1985. Even though it has been over thirty years ago, and Ida had been in a psychiatric hospital for some of those years, he thought maybe she would still remember and have some insight at her mother's death. As it turns out Ida describes her mother's killer in the same way the witness described the recent killer. Ida's mother, too, was raped and strangled, and she had a crown of twigs on her head. No one else will believe Ida, but Ida is sure she can tell how a person died and what he or she was experiencing at the time of their death. She also believes she can tell what a person is feeling or thinking by just touching them. Harper is hesitant to believe but when Ida touches her and reveals what she knows and tells Harper what she is thinking and feeling, it makes a believer out of her. Stu, however, remained unconvinced. When another young black girl is killed in the same manner, Harper and Stu make arrangements for Ida to go in to the morgue and touch the dead body to try to see if she could glean anything from the victim. Ida hears the killer's voice but she cannot see him as he had the white cover over his head and the belt around his neck. How many more young black women will become a victim to this immoral, sadistic killer?
On the surface, there isn't much to like about this crime novel. The lead (series) characters aren't well-drawn and really aren't all that appealing. The supporting cast is worse; from the law enforcement professionals who hid a series of crimes from the public to the killer himself, these are really unlikeable characters. Still, the murder mystery storyline itself has the potential to be an intriguing investigation. But it all seems to develop and proceed formulaically. Hope's Peak isn't a bad mystery by any means, but it's not the compelling one it could have been.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Hope's Peak.
Acknowledgment: Thomas & Mercer provided an ARC of Hope's Peak for this review.
Review Copyright © 2017 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Hope's Peak: North Carolina
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Hope's Peak by Tony Healey — A Harper and Lane Mystery
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: January 2017
List Price: $15.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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