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Evidence of Murder
Lisa Black

Harper / HarperCollins
August 2010 / ISBN 978-0-06-154450-7

Reviewed by Dennis Collins

When Cleveland police detective Frank Patrick is assigned to investigate the death of twenty-four year old Jillian Perry he finds no evidence of foul play but has an uneasy feeling about the case. He turns to his cousin, forensic investigator Theresa MacLean, for a little advice. Theresa is in the process of trying to put her life back together after the death of her fiancé who was murdered eight months ago in a bank robbery. It’s the kind of challenge that Theresa needs to refocus her life and begin to move on.

The police are willing to rule Jillian’s death a suicide. It looks like she wandered outside in freezing weather, sat down in the woods and simply froze to death.

Looking at Jillian’s life, Theresa finds it hard to believe that Jillian, a former escort would kill herself. To begin with, Jillian had a five month old daughter who was the light of her life and she seemed to be very happily married. Her husband was on the cusp of making a huge breakthrough in the video gaming business. The circumstances simply didn’t support a suicidal situation.

In Theresa’s mind there were plenty of suspects beginning with Jillian’s former boss, a supposedly reformed pimp who had become the legitimate agent for sophisticated escorts. That still sounded an awful lot like a pimp to Theresa. And then there was Drew Fleming, a former suitor who seemed totally obsessed with Jillian. Drew had asked that her body be released to him and had filed for custody of Jillian’s daughter.

But the one that Theresa had the strongest feeling about was Jillian’s Husband, Evan Kovacic. He appeared to have an IQ in the genius range but was quite arrogant and didn’t seem upset enough at the death of his new wife. And when it was discovered that Jillian’s baby daughter had a loosely structured, one and a half million dollar trust fund in her name Theresa became even more suspicious. A new sense of urgency enveloped the investigation because the trust fund would go to Evan if anything should happen to the baby.

Jillian’s autopsy had produced no medical evidence that would pin down a cause of death, it wouldn’t even support death by freezing. Once again Theresa turned her attention to the one man that she felt was capable of the complicated planning and meticulous attention to detail required to make a murder look like death by natural causes.

The first three quarters of this book focuses on the methodical collecting of minute pieces of evidence as Theresa tries desperately to build a credible case. It’s amazing just how tiny the parts to the puzzle are. But Theresa is determined to assemble enough evidence to keep the police investigation moving.

You might expect the story to bog down with all of these microscopic details coming to the surface but it actually moves at a very comfortable pace allowing the reader to follow Theresa’s logic and gain enthusiasm for her quest.

When Theresa begins to tighten the noose and the other players recognize it, the story breaks into a full-blown action adventure leading to an explosive finish. This book has a little of everything.

Reviewer's Note:

Reviewed 2011
© 2011