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Masks of Murder

Author: C.C. Canby
Genre: Mystery
Reviewed by: Kevin Tipple

MasksofmurderDying in the line of duty is one thing and almost expected by any law enforcement person. Dying in one's own garage as one removes groceries from the car off duty is something else entirely. That was the fate of Detective Zeke Mallard of the White Bear Lake, Minnesota, Police Department. Stabbed in the neck, slashed across the throat, and stabbed repeatedly in his left leg, he is left to bleed out and die on the floor of his garage. Which he does before being found by his wife Christine.

For his partner and fellow Detective Richard Lanslow, the murder is devastating. Not only has he lost a colleague; Zeke was his mentor and friend. Though they had worked together for only six months the two men had bonded on a far deeper level than just work and Lanslow had also become friends with Christine. In the aftermath, all he can do is promise her that he will find the killer. Instead of the usual spiel about not working a case that hits so close, Police Chief Bradbury assigns Lanslow and two other detectives to the case and the investigation gets underway.

Despite the fact that there is only one suspect, who quickly goes on the run early in the novel, the investigation soon bogs down. As the weeks turn into months, a second killing happens which may relate to the first in a rather obscure way. While Lanslow has to deal with the lack of success and his guilt over not having caught the killer, he also has to deal with the increasing pressure from his girlfriend Laura and a pending marriage.

Working off the premise that what people appear to be in public may be far different than in private, this complex and interesting novel slowly moves forward in a literary style. Gradually, along with numerous separate, but yet ultimately intertwined storylines, numerous characters are slowly revealed. Each character provides a detailed history via extensive internal monologues and interaction with other characters.

Slowly, a real suspect is painstakingly revealed. Much like the cover illustration, which depicts an actor putting on a mask, the mask covering the killer's face is gradually removed. In so doing, this novel becomes less a murder mystery and more a literary style work in that the action is slow moving and character development is used to advance the work. By novel's end, one man's inner delusions are revealed, as are the permanent repercussions of his actions.


December 30, 2004 in Mystery | Permalink


These are good reviews; the books sound interesting. I am interested to get my books reviewed, but can't find a link for a request...

Posted by: Shirley | Feb 4, 2005 5:53:38 PM

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