Ben Reese Mysteries, No 1
1999/ ISBN 1576730670
Mystery / Academic / Ohio / Contemporary
by L J Roberts
First Sentence: It was two in the morning in Oxfordshire,
England, when the call came through from America that woke Clarence
Watson, the porter at Deniston Hall.
WWII Army commando and intelligence officer veteran, Ben Reese
is a widower and archivist at a small public college in Ohio. While
visiting England, his friend, Richard West, head of the English
Department, does of a heart attack. Or did he? After a second death,
a robbery and an attempt on his own life, Ben needs to find out
who has a secret worth killing for.
Ms. Wright’s first book includes a cast of characters, which
I liked, and a small portent, not so much. Her writing is filled
with wonderful descriptions which both provide the larger sense
of place and the small details provide information on the role of
an archivist and glimpses into the personalities of the characters.
Her observation as to how idiosyncratic habits provide an insight
and details of a person’s character leads to interesting introspection
for the reader.
It is refreshing to have a mystery with an academic setting where
the protagonist is actually qualified to investigate a murder. Wright
is very good at providing the backstory and complexity for each
character, such as the contrast between the face the victim presents
to most of the world yet how he really felt and was inside. On the
downside is that Ben occasionally seems arrogant and the sheriff,
Chester, whom I like as he is described as someone to whom the truth
and facts are important, appears stereotypically less educated than
There is a wonderful quality to Ms. Wright’s writing. It
is layered, includes passages which caused me to stop and think,
and includes wonderful, subtle humor through both the author’s
voice and in the actual dialogue. She does get just a bit, subtly
preachy at times, but not in an annoying way and the occasions are
There was a bit of a problem for me with the plot in that a set
up to a major scene was too obvious and the final scene was too
long and felt as though it had lost its way. However, taken against
the strengths of the book, the strengths win and I’m anxious
to read another in this series.