Friday, September 14, 2018

Review of "Harlot’s Moon," by Ed Gorman

Review of
Harlot’s Moon, by Ed Gorman ISBN 0312181086

Four out of five stars
 From my perspective, the most interesting aspect of this novel is the references to places in my home town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. When something is mentioned, in general I can clearly picture the location in my mind. Other than that, the murder mystery is quite ordinary, with one exception. There are several murders that are investigated, but the main one is of a Catholic priest that is very loose in keeping to his vows. Since the local church is about to launch a main fund-raising campaign, the very fact that he was murdered and the potential for additional sundry details of his life to emerge has the leaders at all levels nervous.
 Robert Payne is a former F.B.I. agent and profiler that now consults on a private basis. It is a cold and rainy morning when he receives a call from a college buddy that is now a Catholic priest. He is asked to do a favor and come to the scene where another priest has been murdered. While it is not quite legal for him to visit a crime scene before allowing the police to look it over, Payne agrees.
 There are several supporting characters within and without the church, all with significant baggage of hypocrisy. All of them are vulnerable in their own ways, from Payne’s dying stepfather to the young female recovering drug addict to the married couple that seem to want to kill each other one moment and then express deep affection for each other.
 This creates a substantial list of plausible suspects to the murder of the priest, yet newspaper clippings of earlier murders indicate the potential for one or more serial killers. This complicates things considerably, for there are several people with a strong motive for killing only the priest. The climactic scene where the killer is unmasked and confronted is good, but not particularly intense. This is one of those softer murder mysteries that you read in bed as you are tucking mind and body in for the night.

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