The Secret Witness by Victor Methos
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Solomon Shepard is a former prosecutor who was attacked in the courtroom by the defendent that he was prosecuting. It basically ended his career, and he is still recovering physically and emotionally. He basically shuts himself off from the world except for one neighbor until the new, young, female sheriff, Elizabeth (Billie) Gray, asks for help on a case.
She has received a letter that says, "This is the Reaper speaking." The Reaper was a serial killer they hadn't heard from for 8 years. Was he back, or was this a copycat? The current killer is basically following in the footsteps of the original Reaper by going to the same places to kill on the anniversary dates of the original murders. Shepard and Gray will have to hurry and find the Pseudo Reaper to prevent another murder.
The book started with writing I would describe as "clunky," which to me means the author was unnecessarily wordy, unsure of himself, and forcing the narrative on the audience. It didn't flow well at first. The writer seems to hit his stride about 1/4 into the book.
Also, Shepard is a former homicide prosecutor, not a detective, but his character behaves more like a detective in the way he becomes involved with the case. He is not an investigator, but he acts like one.
When Shepard's neighbor goes missing, the girl who helped him and visited him daily, there is blood everywhere, and they fear she is dead. Shepard thinks the Reaper took the girl as vengeance against Shepard for figuring out who he is. Since Shepard is close to the missing girl and thinks he knows who took her, this presents a conflict of interest NOT explored in a book. He should not be investigating or prosecuting a case in which he is that close to the victim.
Additionally, the author focuses on this annoying habit that Shepard has of chewing on pens. Remember how Kojak always had a sucker in his mouth? I think that is the vibe the author was going for, but A. it was frequent, annoying, and ineffective, and B. Sheperd isn't law enforcement. He's an attorney.
Why would Shepard be involved in investigating a case and trying to solve a murder? The police investigate; the attorney prosecutes. And if he is that embroiled in the case, why would Sheriff Gray have to give him latex gloves for a crime scene. Wouldn't he have known that?
There is a reveal at the end that is plenty juicy, but I wouldn't describe this book as "A red-hot suspenser..." as Kirkus Reviews does. I would also not describe anything the author did as "masterful." The author did create some suspense; I'll give him that, but I will also say some of the plot was far-fetched. The book was just Okay.
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