by John Lawrence Reynolds
Welcome back, John! It's been too long since we last had a mystery novel from John Lawrence Reynolds. He's been busy writing but a lot of the time it's been non-fiction, usually about crime. Good reads but not the terrific novels of yore. So, it's really a bonus for all mystery readers that he's written Beach Strip.
The setting is the title, a beach strip, near a canal that empties into one of the Great Lakes. It starts with a bit of background about the main character, Josie Marshall and how she met her husband Gabe. Josie's visiting her mom in a retirement home where she's been living since suffering a debilitating stroke. The dreaded phone call comes and Josie learns that her cop-husband is dead; his naked body has been found on the beach strip in front of their house, a suicide.
That's the belief of his colleagues and as the finger-pointing begins as to the reasons he would take his life, Josie fights to prove it was murder. She struggles against the evidence, a cop who clearly detests her, another who clearly doesn't, and her own feelings of guilt.
Through her investigations, we meet a series of unique characters who populate the beach strip; some are outright disturbing. But Josie doesn't give up, not even when her own life is in danger. As the suspense deftly builds, lies and betrayals hold the key to the truth and, we're hoping, validation of Josie's quest.
Reynolds has always been a favourite author of mine. His writing is gripping; his use of words balance the tension with a calm that belies the underlying menace. Josie's story will stay with you. He's portrayed her desperation and confusion in masterful prose. Not surprising since he's a two-time winner of an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada. Welcome back, John!