by Fred Lichtenberg
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781594149603
Date: 18 May 2011 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
When Eastpoint Police Chief Hank Reed arrives at the home of his good friend Jim Hunter, he finds trouble. Hunter has died an apparent suicide. After the EMTs and the Suffolk County police leave, Hank has a look around and gets the shock of his life when he finds an upstairs love nest and a collection of lewd pictures of Hunter with women of the town including Hank's wife, Susan. Stunned, he leaves the scene, but returns later to retrieve Susan's picture, but it's missing and he hears someone leave the house and drive away.
The Medical Examiner informs him Hunter was poisoned with strychnine in his bourbon and was not a suicide victim. Now the suspect pool includes the women, their husbands, and the mysterious visitor who took Susan's painting.
Several relatives of Hunter surface, first a sister and then an ex-wife. However, the former wife informs Hank that Hunter had no sister, but an ex-patient might have been stalking him. Someone ransacks Hunter's bedroom and books looking for something. Fortunately, Hank had found and removed Hunter's journal detailing his sexual exploits and fantasies.
Suspicious of Susan, Hank tries to confront her, but learns she is pregnant. Married for 15 years, they had had no luck in producing a child because of Hank's low sperm count. Things had deteriorated between them. That convinces him the child must be Hunter's.
The townspeople, enraged over the pictures and the lack of resolution, demand Hank's resignation. The suicide of one man who claims he killed the lothario because of his wife's involvement with the man adds more tinder. Hank is convinced the man only claimed that to bring closure and that he didn't kill Hunter. Other deaths follow.
When Hank faces the killer, he has more surprises in store. He has to work out who killed which of the victims and prevent further deaths. Having to fight his own emotions and the tangle of suspects and motives, Hank almost loses it.
Litchenberg provides plenty of action and enough red herrings to keep the reader guessing. His next novel Double Trouble should appear shortly.