Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Valentine's Day Murder

The Valentine's Day Murder (1996) by Lee Harris (Syrell Leahy) 

Why would three grown men take off across the frozen expanse of Lake Erie on a hike to Canada? That's what everyone asks when Matty, Clark, and Val (Valentine) set off across the lake after celebrating Val's birthday. The men disappear--leaving only a hole in the ice and a red scarf behind. Was it really a harmless challenge gone wrong? Or did one of them set out across the ice with murder in his heart on Valentine's Day? 

Right after the disappearance, Val's wife asks Christine Bennett to look into the mystery because she's sure her husband is still alive even though the police are certain all three perished that night. But Chris's life is pretty full already--she's expecting her first child and she & her husband Jack have just hired builders to put an extension on their house--so, she turns the woman down. Later, after the ice thaws, two bodies are found and one of them was shot. Now the police are willing to believe that Val is alive, but they also think he's a murderer. His wife is just as certain he's not a murder as she was that he is alive and she wants Chris to prove it.

Chris is reluctant at first, but Jack urges her to go ahead ("You know you're interested"). Soon, she's knee-deep in another investigation and it isn't long till she realizes that nothing is exactly what it seems. The answer is even more tragic than the apparent murder between old friends.

I've really enjoyed digging into these mysteries again (I know...what about all the books you haven't read at all? Shhh. I'm comfort reading.). Interesting characters and interactions and this book packs a few surprises at the end that may have been timely in the 90s, but they're actually even more relevant today. As I noted in my previous re-read (The Christening Day Murder) these may not be clued in the way an armchair detective might like, but they are good little mysteries with solid plots--and just right for quarantine comfort reading. ★★ and 1/2.


Deaths = 3 (one shot; one drowned; one smothered)
Calendar of Crime = February (Valentine on cover)

First Line: When the phone rang that beautiful spring day, I think I knew before I answered who would be on the other end.
Last Line: Maybe the murder on the lake wasn't my last case after all.

No comments: