Reading A Light To Kill By (by Mikel J. Wilson) was a bit of a spur of the moment decision today. It has been promoed on Sadie’s Spotlight several times in the run-up to publication day and I’d intended to get hold of it at some point, as I enjoyed the previous books in the Mourning Dove Mysteries series. (I’ve previously reviewed Murder on the Lake of Fire and Death Opens a Window.)
But I happened to notice that it was on sale today, so I grabbed a copy. And when I also noticed that the author was doing a whole ‘track my release day stats’ thing because it was, in fact, the actual release day, I decided to just go ahead and give it a read. Sometimes it’s the small things that prompt me to action.
Moments after construction tycoon Blair Geister’s death, a mysterious wandering light kills someone on her Southern estate. Is the avenging spirit of the millionairess on a killing spree, or are other forces threatening those in her inner circle? As the will is read, suspicion and jealousy arise, and fingers point to the heirs of her fortune. Private investigator Emory Rome and his Mourning Dove partners accept an invitation to stay at Geisterhaus and unravel its secrets before more lives are lost.
As with the previous books in this series, I quite enjoyed this. I did think it was perhaps not quite as elegantly plotted (with several instances of coincidental knowledge). Jeff came across not as the difficult character he’s been, but as quite unlikable for some of the book. And Wayne’s sudden change of heart was simply too sudden to be believed. But Emory is still a marvelous character. He pairs well with free spirited Jeff and Virginia. Plus, I’m super invested in figuring out the mystery of Phineas and of Emory’s history. There are also several examples of genuinely good people, which is harder to come by than you might think. The writing is readable and the editing pretty clean. I’ll be ready and waiting for book four, whenever it comes out.
Some time ago, I won copies of Mikel J. Wilson‘s Murder on the Lake of Fire and Death Opens a Window (Mourning Dove Mysteries, #1 & 2) on Instagram. I read and reviewed book one, Murder on the Lake of Fire, last year, but never got around to Death Opens a Window. However, with book 3 soon to come out, the series was promoed on Sadie’s Spotlight recently, which reminded me Death Opens a Window was buried on my shelf. So, I pulled it out.
As he struggles with the consequences of his last case, Emory must unravel the inexplicable death of a federal employee in a Knoxville high-rise. But while the reticent investigator is mired in a deep pool of suspects – from an old mountain witch to the powerful Tennessee Valley Authority – he misses a greater danger creeping from the shadows. The man in the ski mask returns to reveal himself, and the shocking crime of someone close is unearthed.
I quite enjoyed this. I like Emory as a main character and Jeff is possibly the most abrasive partner ever. But they make a good straight man / wise guy duo. I didn’t even guess the murderer. I’d started to suspect, but I wasn’t sure and that’s a pleasant rarity for me. The editing is clean and writing is sharp. I thought the use of names or endearments in dialogue cropped up on occasion, but not too often and mostly with the same characters. So, maybe it’s just supposed to be a speech pattern of them in particular. Then that reveal at the end…well, I guess I need book three now.
I won a copy of Murder on the Lake of Fire through a giveaway the author, Mikel Wilson, ran on Instagram.
Description from Goodreads:
At twenty-three and with a notorious case under his belt, Emory Rome has already garnered fame as a talented special agent for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. His career is leapfrogging over his colleagues, but the jumping stops when he’s assigned a case he fought to avoid – an eerie murder in the Smoky Mountain hometown he had abandoned. The mysterious death of a teen ice-skater once destined for the pros is soon followed by an apparent case of spontaneous human combustion. In a small town bursting with friends and foes, Rome’s own secrets lie just beneath the surface. The rush to find the murderer before he strikes again pits him against artful private investigator Jeff Woodard. The PI is handsome, smart and seductive, and he just might be the killer Rome is seeking.
I generally enjoyed this. I wasn’t surprised by the conclusion of the mystery in any sense, but I enjoyed the journey of seeing that I was right and I liked both the main characters. I thought very occasionally that names were tossed into dialogue too often and the similes weighed a little heavily at times. But for the most part, I’m glad to have read it and look forward to the next one.
Edit: June 10, 2021 — In totally unrelated news, as I hadn’t even started Sadie’s Spotlight yet when I reviewed this book, the series was later promoed on the site.