by Sharon Ervin
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781594148767
Date: 16 June 2010 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Marketed as Romantic Suspense, Sharon Erwin's latest novel, Candlesticks, features a series of burglaries surrounding the consummation of Jancy Dewhurst's marriage to Jim Wills. Jancy, a wire services reporter serving as an intern, chafes at the nature of her assignments and longs for an exciting story. At last, she is assigned to investigate a series of burglaries in San Diego. With digging, she learns they are linked by the time and places they occurred and by the theft of candlesticks. Later, she finds other links. When one of the victims turns up dead, police at first consider it a natural death, but then new questions arise.
Working on the crimes, Jancy liaises with a local police officer Thad Bias. She finds the young officer helpful and attractive. Her fiancÚ Jim Wills begins to ask questions about Thad that Jancy dismisses, but she also has to fight her need for reassurance caused by her distance from Jim and family.
Duke Mallory, a crusty old reporter and Jancy's boss, makes her toe the line and do a story right. However, when she leaves to get married, he surprises her with a shower and later by coming to her wedding. He regards her as the daughter he never had.
Surprising links between the thefts include the absence from home of all the victims related in some way to the same local hospital. The patients of the victims are all treated by the same nurse, the charming Charles Denim. His absences coincide with the thefts.
On her honeymoon in Colorado, Jancy reads of local burglaries that remind her of the San Diego ones. When she contacts the police, she learns each theft also involved candlesticks. The deeper she and police dig the more the capers smack of conspiracy, but what the thief/murderer seeks remains unclear.
Meanwhile, Jancy and the police try to learn the whereabouts of an adopted boy named Carl Donnan, Jr. Given up for adoption as youngster, could he be Charles Denim? The hospital never did a thorough check on Denim and he has since disappeared.
Astute readers will identify the killer early, but Erwin keeps the motive hidden for a while. The novel has plenty of sex between Jancy and her new husband for readers who like lots of it. Erwin saves plenty of excitement for the climax when Jancy fights an attacker intent on violence or even murder. Earlier titles featuring Jancy and Jim include The Ribbon Murders and Murder Aboard The Choctaw Gambler. As always, Five Star provides a high quality product with an easy to read typeface in a reasonable size. Many public libraries stock their titles, a bonus for avid mystery readers.