Author: Dorothy H. Hayes

Publisher: Mainly Murder Press

ISBN: 098819449X: 9780988194496

Dorthy Hayes' recent novel Murder at the P&Z is set in the upscale, affluent and conservative town of Wilton in southwestern Connecticut-a town that according to my research, was voted as one of CNN Money's “Best Places to Live” in the United States.

Hayes informs us in her bio that she began her writing experience as a staff writer for the The Wilton Bulletin writing articles pertaining to planning and zoning which subject matter prominently figures into her novel. And although her novel is purely a work of fiction, she states in her Author's Notes that two of her characters did have ties to the Mob and did engage in practices similar to these characters. In addition, a great deal of the background information concerning organized crime, which Hayes incorporates into the yarn emanates from Dan E. Moldea's Interference. She also used as part of her material articles gleaned from various media sources concerning organized crime in Connecticut.

As the story unfolds we learn that it has been eighty-six years since the last murders were committed in Wilton and thus it is little wonder there was quite an uproar when the inhabitants in 1983 were faced with two successive murders of prominent members of their community. One of the murders occurred in Bimini Island in the Bahamas concerning the recently retired town planner of the Department of Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Harrison Hayden. The second one transpired in Wilton involving Hayden's secretary for twenty-eight years and an upstanding citizen, Maddy Trowbridge. Were these random crimes, as the police steadfastly believed or was there a connection between the two crimes?

An investigative reporter for the Wilton Weekly, Carol Rossi, who is the principal character of the novel, receives a telephone call from her boyfriend Jerry, a detective with the Wilton Police Department to come and help identify the dead body of a woman discovered on School Road. As it turns out, the dead woman is Maddy Trowbridge whom Rossi had known for two years and who in the past proved to be quite helpful in tipping her off to various activities of the P&Z department. Although she is quite saddened by the death of her acquaintance, Rossi nonetheless realizes that this could be the big story she had been waiting for that would advance her career from a reporter for a weekly publication to a daily one.

Rossi takes nothing for granted and refuses to go along with the police findings that contradict her own suspicions even if it means putting her own life on the line, which in fact it does,when she finds herself being followed and terrorized by someone driving a black sedan. As she furthers her investigation, she recalls how Maddy had recently become cranky and wondered if it could have been related to permits granted by the P&Z department that would have in some way compromised the environment. Perhaps there was some illegal chicanery going on in her department and she knew too much about it? The only way to find out was to get her hands on Mrs. Trowbridge's files concerning building permits and notably one in particular, the Stuart Island Condominiums which had been issued three years ago. The story takes quite a turn when Mrs. Trowbridge's daughter Arabella contacts Rossi and informs her that she found among her mother's belongings a note marked for her with the writing “Private and Urgent.” As we discover, the note raises a great deal of questions and justifies Rossi's probe into the dealings of the Stuart Island Condominiums. What secrets will be unveiled? How will they relate to the two murders?

Dorothy Hayes has seduced her readers with a splendidly fast-paced and immensely readable thriller containing a cast of well-drawn characters, particularly her protagonist, Ms. Rossi who keeps us on the edge of our seats with her tenacious and keen investigative skills. She is not just a silly and pathetic caricature but rather someone readers can easily cheer along as she endeavors to solve the mystery. In addition, Hayes cleverly creates scenes that convince her readers to fear not so much as to what is happening, but rather who is doing it, as is the case with the menacing stalkings experienced by Rossi as well as the unsavory characters whom she encounters along the way.

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Dorothy H. Hayes

Follow Here To Purchase Murder at the P&Z

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