I’ll confess from the outset that the cover is what attracted me to “Melancholy Manor“. When I realized it was the second in a series, I was a tad apprehensive… However, I was delighted to find that this time the second novel reads well even if you haven’t read its predecessor, “Haunting memories from a troubled past“.
This mystery series features Hera Hunter, a young woman in her late twenties, who is a former Marine Corps sniper. Now she makes her living as a private investigator in Centreville, a fictional middle United States city which is riddled with corruption. Her business partner is Toby, (fastidious in nature while Hera is not), and a computer whiz/hacker. The third protagonist is Lucky, Hera’s adorable Yorkshire terrier. Lucky takes part in most scenes, not in the usual ‘animal mystery’ way, but just as Hera’s beloved pet. Oh… and did I mention that Hera is a vigilante? Think female Dexter. She rids her city of those that the justice system has not punished…
Hera and Toby have been hired by Caroline Dunham (one of the city’s elderly rich) to prove the innocence of her stepson in the murders of two oriental women. Her daughter, Zoey Barnes has accused her stepbrother of the crimes and Caroline cannot rest with this hanging over the family – she is suffering from terminal cancer and wants her family affairs in order.
Zoey Barnes in a volatile character with a large than life personality – and Hera cannot stand to be in her company for very long. Kyle Dunham, Zoey’s stepbrother, is a handsome business man with a pleasant demeanor. However neither sibling has a penchant for telling the truth. Hera must sort out the myriad lies if she is going to solve the mystery…
Along the way we meet many colorful characters. Hera’s foster sister is a college educated brothel manageress. Hera’s estranged father is a down-and-out alcoholic who lives on the streets. Hera has one friend who is a policewoman and another who is a cat burglar. Her foster father is a loveable thief. Also, Hera has a proverbial ‘rich uncle’ who she resents deeply. All these characters serve to move the story along in an entertaining way.
We learn a little of Hera’s tragic childhood. She witnessed her father murder her mother when she was only eight years old! Her father fled and left Hera to the mercy of the foster system. Hera suffered abuse and neglect and learned at a tender age how to take care of herself and have her wits about her.
“Melancholy Manor” will appeal to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced, entertaining story. Neither ‘deep’ nor ‘light’, the novel hits a middle ground that fans of such authors as Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich should enjoy.
I understand the author’s wish to have the setting remain ambiguous. It could be anywhere. I did have issue with the constant naming of streets when the action took place in Hera’s jeep. What does it matter what the names of the streets were if the city itself is unnamed? Also, I found that the descriptions of everyone’s wardrobe added little to the narrative. Other than these small complaints I very much enjoyed reading “Melancholy Manor” and I look forward to reading it’s sequel when it is published.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book for review.