*3.75 stars rounded up*
It has been awhile since I started a new mystery series by a new-to-me author. I picked this up from “Read Now” Mystery Section at Netgalley on a whim; I liked the cover. But as I started, it turned out to be a good decision. I really enjoyed this mainly because of one element. Marty Singer, the former DC homicide detective retired because he suffered cancer. For me that was one of the major factors contributed to my thinking this was different. I don’t think I have read detective stories whose character are battling major illness. Workaholic, yes. Addict, yes. Lack of ability for social connection, yes. But one with cancer, no.
On one hand, the cancer plot humanizes Singer greatly. Matthew Iden doesn’t pull punches too. We have Singer undergoing chemotherapy as well as suffering from the horrible after effect that makes him passed out or feeling weak or losing appetite. It was appealing to me because it shows that even a good detective is not indestructible. I sympathized for Singer greatly.
On the other hand, though, I also thought the cancer plot slightly put the investigation on a break. Due to his illness, Singer can’t exactly going full speed in gathering information, or physically kicking other people’s ass to get his answer. It’s not exactly a double-edge sword situation… I mean, I wouldn’t want Singer to be miraculously healed because that would take out the unique part of this series. I guess I just need to readjust my expectation when I continue with further books.
The mystery part is pretty decent. Singer is not a private detective actively taking cases so the dead body in this story is from 12 years ago (we have more dead bodies near the end though). The case comes to him on a ‘chance’ when the daughter of a murder victim sought out Singer’s help after thinking that her mother’s murderer is back taunting him. I said “decent” because Iden has these italic chapters as part of the other major player’s perspective which kind of reveal big clues (and later, the villain), which kind of taking the suspense (or the fun of me guessing) out of the equation. There are still few twists along the way, but not one that made my eyes go wide in disbelief for example.
Iden adds a ‘touch’ of romance for Singer; but I thought it was a bit out of the blue (especially considering the woman character). Don’t think the story needs a romantic flair anyway, so I was happy the way that it ended.
All in all, I think this is a good start of a series. I think I will check out the sequel; I’m in the mood for mystery now.
The book is provided by Thomas & Mercer publishing via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
Title: A Reason to Live (A Marty Singer Mystery, #1)
Author: Matthew Iden
Length: 360 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (Amazon Publishing)
Release Date: December 16, 2014