What a delightfully twisty mystery this was! Peter Helton is one hell of a writer and I was in suspense the entire book, never figuring out who'd done it until the very last minute. In fact, I wasn't even certain how many crimes were going on in this book for a very long time. And I was never sure quite how much I liked the inspector. McLusky is a very grumpy youngish detective, who acts and seems like a much older, curmudgeonly man. For goodness sake, it felt like he was Oscar in the old Odd Couple sitcom. He had an atrocious eating, drinking and smoking habit and didn't take care of himself at all. He was just coming off a suspension at the beginning of the book and had obviously screwed up royally because everyone was watching him like he was a time bomb and his boss told him if he did ONE THING WRONG he was gone. Poof!
These are not the clean, cerebral mysteries of a Dorothy Sayers or Agatha Christie, where the detectives have tea and scones and twirl their mustaches or knit their tassies and brilliantly deduce things. You don't think your way through this book. You feel each and every bout of heartburn; you yearn for McLusky to find someone to love who will push him to actually BUY a bed-frame and get that damn mattress off the floor. And while you admire the fact that he's so intensely driven to solve the cases that he walks off in the middle of a conversation with the girlfriend that left him that he would kill to have back...you wish he could learn to compartmentalize. To learn to save some of it for a personal life. But it doesn't seem like he can. And that makes you sad. However, it is what makes him such a brilliant detective.
So when the first odd murder happens, it's unrelated to anything else. There are no clues. They start investigating when the second happens, but the connection is tenuous at best. But they continue. As McLusky sets himself up as the scapegoat for the killer's hate, he begins a cat and mouse game that could not only help him find the killer, it could add him to the killer's list.
While I feel I would have benefited from having read the previous books in the series, I loved this mystery. It made me feel like I was in the detective's disturbed, sad head–probing the mysteries and vagaries of the human mind. It's almost as if because he is so dysfunctional, it helps him understand others who are as well. Sadly never surprised at the depths to which people will sink.
I'm wondering if he's the chocolate thief as well.
It's About The Book (full review here)
Well-crafted ... This could be a long running series if the author can keep up this level of excellence
The McLusky series manages to be both hilarious and dead serious, adding yet another string to Helton's impressive bow.