Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Last Clinic:A Darla Cavannah Mystery), by Gary Gusick

Alibi (Random House Publishing Group), ISBN 9780345548887, November 2013

Darla Cavannah is a South Philly girl, a Philadelphia cop, who moved to Jackson Mississippi with her husband, Jackson native and football hero Hugh Cavannah. Injuries ended his career, and, just six months ago, a car accident, fueled by the pain pills demanded by his injuries, ended Hugh's life.

On a leave of absence from the Hinds County sheriff's department while she grieves Hugh's death, Darla is startled to be abruptly called back to work in the wake of the shooting death of Reverend Jimmy Aldridge.

The popular Reverend was killed in the early morning, in front of the women's health clinic he's been rather aggressively picketing. Popular opinion, including Darla's newly assigned partner, Detective Tommy Reylander, has already convicted the doctor who runs the clinic, Dr. Stephen Nicoletti.

Darla is not so sure. And as the investigation continues, the situation grows not more clear, but less clear. The reverend had an interesting set of extracurricular activities as well as an unsuspected source of income.

I'm really impressed with both the character development and the pacing in this book, which is apparently a first novel. I can honestly say it doesn't read like a first novel. Darla and her friends, colleagues, and rivals, including Reylander, who could easily be a clown, are very neatly drawn and none are two-dimensional or boring. The layers of what's really going on are peeled back at exactly the right pace, and this is a truly enjoyable read.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.