Monday, January 26, 2009

Death and the Crossed Wires-Linda Berry

Death and the Crossed Wires
Linda Berry
Five Star, Mar 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781594147470

The Ogeechee Baptist Church in Ogeechee, Georgia (population 3,000), has the flock excited that sixteen year old Crys Cleary is being baptized by the youth pastor Josh Easterling; even her grandfather Howard, who raised her, but is not noted for going to church, attends the ceremony. However, something happens and Josh falls into Baptistry. Bobby Turner takes charge of the scene until the EMT and cops respond. Josh is dead having been electrocuted by the microphone.

Police Chief Henry “Hen” Huckabee leads an investigation into what initially looks like a tragic accident. However, Officer Jerome Sharpe learns from his relative, an electrician that someone tampered with the device. The murder investigation makes no progress until Hen’s cousin Officer Trudy Roundtree suggests looking at the deaths of the teen’s parents and boyfriend.

This is an engaging small town Georgia police procedural in which the case goes nowhere beyond proving a homicide and not an accident occurred until Trudy persuades Hen to change the focus. The story line is action-packed but it is the cast starting with the police officer cousins, their family especially his mom-her aunt (no comment on nepotism), and the rest of the unit and the Ogeechee Baptist Church members that make the tale fun to read. They bring alive the eccentricity of a small town in which everyone seems to know everyone except someone has the dark secret of being a killer. The latest Hen-Trudy investigation (see DEATH AND THE FAMILY TREE and DEATH AND THE WALKING STICK) is an enjoyable Southern fried (literally) whodunit.
Harriet Klausner