Liquid Shades of Blue by James Polkinghorn

Liquid Shades of Blue by James Polkinghorn
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

First his brother, now his mother—Jack Girard searches for the truth behind his family’s tragedies

When hungover ex-lawyer and Key West bar owner Jack Girard groggily wakes up one morning, he’s greeted by a beautiful woman lying next to him and a shrill, ringing telephone. Seeing the call is from his father, Claude “The Duke” Girard, Jack answers. Within seconds, he learns that his mother is dead in an apparent suicide, and Jack hits the road, heading back to his childhood home in Miami to face his tyrannical father.

The death of his mother brings up haunting memories from Jack’s past—memories of his brother Bobby’s suicide when they were in college together. Being back in Miami only continues to dredge up his family traumas, but things grow more complicated when The Duke suggests that his estranged wife’s alleged suicide may have been a murder.

As Jack begins to uncover the truth about his mother’s death, including the secret she had revealed to only two people—the same secret Bobby had taken with him to his grave—he finds himself in imminent danger. Can Jack reveal the true story before it’s too late? He has to act quickly, or he fears he may be the victim of the next Girard family tragedy.

Jack Girard has seen his share of tragedy. Having lost his brother to suicide in college, he’s blindsided by the news that his mother, too, has taken her own life. But something’s not sitting right with Jack. Is it his past that’s haunting him and making him doubt reality, or was his mother murdered? There’s only one way to find out.

Lawyer turned bar owner Jack Girard is an interesting character. Having mostly abandoned practicing law, he only takes on worthy clients now, focusing his time and attention on the bar. I liked that about him, that he would rather put his energy into something not guaranteed to turn a profit rather than taking on rich clients and banking the retainers. On the downside, he is a bit egotistical at times, which was somewhat a put off for me. I do get it, however, because you need to be very certain you’re right to be a successful lawyer. In the end, that ego is what pushes him until he finds the answers to the questions he’s been asking, so it works for him.

Jack’s father, Duke Girard, was awful from the get-go. Every interaction Jack had with him was fraught with tension and derision. While I understand that he’s just a character, his attitude sometimes made reading the interactions between himself and Jack tough to get through. He does, however, make for a very dislikable villain.

Liquid Shades of Blue is a slow burn mystery that takes you from a bar in Key West, Florida to a mansion in Miami, on a search for the truth. At times the writing could have been tightened up and made more precise, cutting down on some of the overly long sentences and paragraphs. However, the plot is solid and the characters engaging enough to make you want to know how it ends. I’d be curious to see what the author publishes next.

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