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Truth Be Told (Jane Ryland) by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Cover Artist: Trevillion Images / Getty Images
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Forge Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765374936
Date: 07 October 2014 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Jane Ryland is a reporter for the on-line newspaper edition of The Boston Register. She investigates a rash of accidents and murders; women are being found dead around homes that have been foreclosed. The deaths are connected to one bank in particular, Atlantis & Anchor. Also, they are connected to a cold case involving a woman, Carley Marie Schaefer, who was found strangled to death on Lilac Sunday in 1994. The anniversary of Lilac Sunday is fast approaching. Jane Ryland may become the next victim if she and her boyfriend, Detective Jake Brogan, donít discover the identity of the Lilac Sunday Killer.

Hank Phillipi Ryan's Truth Be Told (following The Wrong Girl and The Other Woman) is the most intriguing of the three novels. It has a complex, realistic plot that involves a conspiracy among personnel in the banking industry. I never trusted banks before reading Truth Be Told. I definitely don't trust them now. It is too easy to make money appear or disappear by pressing computer keys. In the future, I will definitely be scrutinizing my bank statements more closely. One character magically erases her clients' debts to prevent their homes from being foreclosed. Truth be told, this is not fair for those who pay their mortgages.

Jane Ryland is a strong, independent single woman with moral convictions. She lives by a set of rules established for reporters. For example, never sleep with a source. She is emotionally torn about dating a police officer. If she ever marries Jake, one of them must quit their job. Jake also has strong convictions. He is determined to find the true identity of the Lilac Sunday Killer; his grandfather, Police Commissioner Ewan Brogan, never could. At one point in the novel, there appears to be a love triangle. Lawyer Peter Hardesty is representing a troubled man, Gordon Thorley, who confesses to being the Lilac Sunday Killer; Peter, I believe, begins falling in love with Jane.

I often think of Hank Phillipi Ryan's novels as romantic mysteries. There is a lot of sexual tension between the two leads, Jane and Jake. This is especially evident in the third novel when a competitor for Jane's affections, Peter Hardesty, is thrown into the mix. With its strong, independent heroine; intriguing, complex plots; gruesomely implied violence; and romantic touches, the Jane Ryan mysteries remind me of those written by Mary Higgins Clark. It is not surprising that Ryan has won the Mary Higgins Clark award. Furthermore, the topic of home foreclosures is a timely and sensitive one in these economically distressed times; I've had friends suffer home foreclosures.

The killer's identity is kept well hidden until almost the end of Truth Be Told. A good body count helps boost the pacing. However, the pacing could have been even faster if Hank Phillipi Ryan hadn't bogged it down with too much detail. In her attempt to make the characters more realistic, she reveals all their thoughts, emotions, etc. She describes common sounds. She also assumes we don't know the acronyms and jargon pertaining to basic police procedures. Ryan's over padded 400 page hardback novel could have been reduced to a more manageable 350 pages. Nevertheless, her latest novel is an enjoyable read.

Because of Ryan, I'll think twice before entering an empty, abandoned house; I don't want to be murdered. Truth be told, I'm looking forward to the next Jane Ryland mystery.

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