Claire Marshall’s construction company has a celebrity client. Tony Burke is a well-known racecar driver, perhaps better known for his romantic exploits. He wants to restore his family house in New Orleans’ Lower Garden District. When Claire talks him into opening his father’s old studio, they find evidence of an old murder. Within a day, there’s a second murder.
Tony insists the two crimes, although years apart, are connected. Unfortunately, the most obvious link puts him on top of the list of suspects. Claire wants the motive to lie elsewhere, and it might. The latest victim had no shortage of enemies.
Claire is a widow just beginning to re-enter the world of dating. She’s been seeing a homicide detective, but as the investigation progresses, her sympathies lie more and more with the chief suspect. Thirty-four-years-old and she has finally met the man her mother warned her against.
In Secrets, Lies & Homicide, romance and mystery form a perfect match.
In mysteries, characterization is often neglected because of the suspense taking the limelight. Not in this novel, however. I was amazed and charmed by the vivid characters, all so unique and so wonderfully painted in just a few lines. A lot of the characterization was done through dialogue, with characters uttering a sentence that I would immediately recognize and say: ‘That was so Clair.’ Or ‘No one could say that but Mike.’ The author writes the dialogues masterfully, always progressing the plot or revealing something new about a character, but never bogging the story down by info dumps. Wonderful!
The romance was subtle and real, painful and passionate. All the best things wrapped up in the relationships of Claire and Mike and Tony. The hero, also doubling as a car racer and murder suspect, is not the classic, cliché hero. He is a man with faults, big ones; but Claire is a woman with a big heart that hasn’t felt love and passion for too long. He thaws her doubts and objections. She experiences heartbreak again, but also love and devotion. As a reader, you come not only to understand her, but to love her because she feels as real as your best friend.
The pacing of the novel was perfect, not only when it comes to the murder investigation, but also with the romantic relationship. It felt very natural and believable. It also added to the suspense of the main plotline. I liked how the motives for the crime lay in the past and how they were tied up with Tony’s childhood and his memories of his parents. The personalities of the side characters all added to the motives and the tragic events of the story. There were no coincidences or loose ends.
With Claire giving us a glimpse at the architecture of New Orleans, I wished for even more descriptions of the city and its culture.
I’m very happy I had the chance to read this book, and I will certainly buy the other two books of the trilogy.