Friday, June 21, 2013

The Father's Day Murder: Review

The Father's Day Murder by Lee Harris is one of a series...all with holiday-related titles...about Christine Bennett, an ex-nun who has a talent for solving mysteries that others have long given up on. In this one the murder is more current, but Chris still finds herself digging into the past to find the seeds of the present crime.

The Morris Avenue Boys, nine friends who lived in the Bronx on Morris Avenue when they were children, gather every year for a reunion to catch up on old times.  This year's celebration takes place on Father's Day--one of the few times these successful middle-aged men could find time in their busy schedules to make it back to New York.  All of the "boys" show up except for Fred Beller who grew up to hate New York, left it, and never returned, and George Fried who has passed away.  The other seven have all remained close and have always enjoyed their reunion party.  Until now...

Someone brings along an extra party favor and takes the opportunity to stab one of the Morris Avenue Boys to death with an ice pick.  Arthur Wien was a celebrated author and the most well-known of all the "boys."  Now he's making headlines again--this time as the victim in what seems to be a motiveless crime.  

Chris, who works as an instructor at a local college, is called in by one of her former students who thinks that her grandfather has been fingered as the most likely suspect.  As Chris begins her investigation, she is told over and over again by the "boys" and their wives that Arthur was a great guy, that everybody loved him, that they were all so proud of how well he'd done.  No hard feelings anywhere.  But if that's true, why did he wind up on the floor of the men's room stabbed with an ice pick?   Chris uses her skills as a sympathetic listener and keen questioner to sort through memories and stories of a group of closely-knit friends and discover what could turn a friend into a killer.

These mysteries featuring Chris Bennett are generally fun and light. No matter how difficult the subject matter, Harris never gets gritty when writing about it. And even though this one is a bit more intense, we definitely stay within the cozy realm and the book was easily finished in a single sitting. While it may be said that Chris seems to have a lot of "luck" in her investigations, they are always interesting and her character is very likable and believable. It helps that she really likes what she does and is very compassionate in her dealings with victims and perpetrators alike. I highly recommend this series when you want something satisfying but not too heavy.

(This one was actually finished on 6/18/13....I'm just a bit behind on my review.)

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