Follow Here To Purchase The Morphine Murders

Author:  LJ King

Publisher: First Edition Designs

ISBN-10: 1937520897

ISBN-13: 978-1937520892

I would trust LJ  King to build a bridge, plan a wedding, or be my research assistant. This new writer uses steely precision in developing her plot, relationships among characters, and placement of clues along the path of this police procedural set in Long Island, and involving an unauthorized “shadow” team to trap a serial killer.

There are several important characters in this novel, each with potential for his or her own spinoff from what I quickly began to see as a TV pilot. The women are in the forefront. Raina works for a mortgage lender, but has picked up the bug for solving crimes from both her police detective boyfriend, Danny, and her best friend Sloan, a detective on maternity leave, but willing and eager to work on the sly from home. Danny is leading the official investigation, but is joined by his pal Stone and a newcomer called Hawkeye, an ordinary cop loaned to the team because of his extraordinary powers of reading facial expressions. Danny’s dedication to work keeps him from being an attentive lover to Raina, which leaves a gap in which her attraction to Tyler, a coworker, grows. It is boss Harvey, though, who becomes a focal point as the pattern of killings emerges. He might be the one. But he’s not the only creepy guy.

Perhaps it is coincidental, but the last three books I have reviewed were masterminded by women who focused their (female) characters’ sleuthing on a growing mistrust of men. I am wondering what’s going on out there in the dating world. It’s not just about stranger-danger, but about possibly miscalculating the motives of the one you love. The narrative stimulates fear by images of knives, broken glass, misplaced alarm remotes, IV drips, shadows, and other signature images that build up in the reader’s mind until they are so suggestive of danger that one wants to yell out, “Don’t put your hair in a ponytail!”

The women surreptitiously sleuthing begin to outpace the pros. In fact, Raina’s daring could be interpreted as competitiveness stemming from her resentment that Danny always puts his work first. This is just one of several love affairs under pressure in this involved tale. The emotions keep us grounded in a world where, otherwise, resolution relies so much on technology.

There is, thankfully, comic relief, in a pair of testosterone-logged clowns who would delight Shakespeare. The women use Sloan’s college-age brother Michael and his pal Charlie for surveillance. They try their best, but always wind up busted. There’s also a dog, Raina’s Doberman, named Codis (for Combined DNA Index System), who helps to get her out of a tight spot. He’s an endearing addition to the series cast.

Women who like thrills and chills along with complex romantic relationships will take to King’s style. Sensitive men will, too, but those who insist on something fast-paced might be frustrated by her careful attention to detail. Frankly, I am most impressed by the author’s familiarity with police procedure, medical procedure, and the psychology of serial killers. Her dialogue is stripped down to essentials, which helps keep up the pace. And yet she has a gift for the right turn-of-phrase. Among my favorites: “His big features matched his large, Frankenstein-like head, only in Blainey’s case, he was missing the screws, and his mustache threw off the whole look.”

Follow Here To Purchase The Morphine Murders