Murder in Los Lobos
A Bella Kowalski Mystery by Sue McGinty
Review: Sue McGinty introduces Bella Kowalski, an obituary writer (but hoping to become a reporter) for a central California newspaper in Murder in Los Lobos.
Bella is driving along a coastal highway when another vehicle, a much larger Hummer, tries to force her off the road. Initially she thinks it's because of her very public stance against a new wastewater treatment plant planned for a pristine piece of property in her community. Later when a co-owner of the property is found dead, her car, which was almost identical to Bella's, pushed over the side of a cliff, she isn't so sure. While researching the woman's background for her obituary, Bella discovers she kept a journal. Thinking the journal may yield clues to who killed her, Bella goes undercover to retrieve the information, too late realizing that she may also be risking her life.
Though Murder in Los Lobos is a promising start to this planned series of (at least) three mysteries, it ultimately suffers from a weak, improbable plot and erratic pacing. On the plus side, the author takes care to introduce interesting characters that are well drawn if a little overly complex. It probably wasn't necessary to have such intricate backstories for all the main characters revealed in this first book but it works to a degree because they're extended fairly evenly over much of the story. In contrast, the details of the murder investigation and its resolution are rapidly compressed into much tighter spaces, not all of it in a linear, logical manner. And it's always unfortunate when the central character does little to unmask the killer or discover the reasoning behind the murder, resorting to the simplistic "if I'm going to die anyway, you might as well tell me why you did it" tactic. Still, Bella is an engaging lead in a series that, with stronger plots that actually develop a credible mystery, has the potential for a long(er) run.
Acknowledgment: Perseverance Press provided a copy of Murder in Los Lobos for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Murder in Los Lobos: Central Coast, California
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Murder in Los Lobos by Sue McGinty — A Bella Kowalski Mystery
Publisher: Fithian Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: October 2008
List Price: $14.95