Saturday, June 21, 2008

Burial of the Dead -Michael Hogan

Burial of the Dead
Michael Hogan
St. Martin’s, Aug 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9780312367299

Just before she died, wealthy Emma Kost O'Neal sent a note to her grand-niece Manny informing her that she was leaving her large estate to her; she also warns Manny to avoid troubled Matt Wyman.

Sometime after the elderly woman dies, Manny and Matt living together argue over Emma’s alleged suicide. Matt believes Emma odious avaricious lawyer Sullivan killed her. He demands Manny assist him in proving his assertion.

Later Matt using the name Levon resides in an asylum where he plans to escape and return to Manny. Meanwhile she feels she has found her soulmate paralegal Ann Dillon; ironically she is as obsessed as Matt is to prove Sullivan killed Emma. Even the police who first investigated the case, detectives Mark Moraski and David Talmadge argue over Emma’s death, but they look at Matt as a possible killer if a homicide occurred.

This is a complicated somewhat convoluted mystery as the audience wonders whether Emma was murdered or committed suicide. Throughout the superb but Byzantine story line are legal depositions and other evidence that may be facts, interpretations to fit assumptions or red herrings. Fans who want a straightforward investigative thriller need to pass, but those who appreciate a multifaceted thriller will enjoy BURIAL OF THE DEAD because Michael Hogan’s powerful support characters make this tale work.

Harriet Klausner