Death on a Budget
Michael W. Sherer
Five Star, Aug 18 2010, $25.95
In Huntley, Illinois, banker Lou Barrett commits suicide using a shotgun. His childhood friend Chicago private investigator Emerson Ward returns home for his buddy’s funeral though he us stunned that Lou killed himself.
At the same time that Emerson heads home, his girlfriend Nell Reilly decides to go home to Seattle with their two-year-old daughter Emily to visit her mother dying from cancer. Lou's sister Meg Brodsky informs Emerson that she believes someone murdered her sibling, but made it look like Lou killed himself. Emerson, who was going to rush home to talk to Nell before she flew to the Pacific Northwest, begins to uncover a dirty mall deal, which leads to further questions about Lou's business partner Pete Anderson and Emerson’s conclusion that his pal was murdered. However, not only does someone want him silenced and the FBI warn him off the case as they conduct surveillance of a Muslim businessmen, clues lead back decades to the sleuth’s teen years and his brother Hank’s suicide.
The latest Ward investigation (see Death Is No Bargain) is personal as the death of a childhood friend brings back memories of the hero’s salad days when his sibling killed himself. The exciting story line is complex with two prime subplots, but several threads in each. Although the climatic ending seems to come out of nowhere, readers will enjoy Ward’s investigation into Death.