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Devil in the Hole by Charles Salzberg
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432826963
Date: 17 July 2013

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

A neighbor, troubled by lights in a house, calls the police who discover an entire family: mother, children, and grandmother dead in their home, and the husband missing. Each was shot in the head and placed on blankets in one room except for the grandmother. They find her in bed. Even the family dog was shot and the house also suffered random shots. No casings were found and the house was neat. The killer has had a three-week lead, but one dogged investigator is dedicated to seeing justice done.

Devil in the Hole is not a mystery as in 'solving who did the murders'. The how of the murders and the who are known. However, the question of why remains. Is it as simple as a man dissatisfied with his life suffering a mid-life crisis? The novel offers a tour de force of personalities and obsessions told through multiple viewpoints including the killer and those who meet or hunt him. The author has a keen ear for dialogue and personalities.

The impact of murder changes people especially the neighbor, an ex-girlfriend, the investigator, and the killer. Salzberg keeps each person in sharp focus. Most like the killer, but find him strange. His ex-girlfriend fears he may return to kill her.

The investigator pursues the murderer on a long torturous trail as far south as Argentina, but always lag behind the killer's aimless path. The investigator and the killer are mirror images of one another. Years pass and the chase continues, eroding the health of both men. The ending is inevitable, but not fully satisfying because Salzberg leaves the fate of some of the characters unresolved.

Salzberg has written two Harry Swann mysteries, several short stories, and assorted nonfiction. He is an accomplished writer, and Swann's Last Song was nominated for the Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel.

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