Blood and Wisdom: A Mystery by Verlin Darrow (The Wild Rose Press, 381 pages, $17.99; Kindle ed. $5.99)
Welcome to Santa Cruz, California, home of gurus, gangsters and gumshoes. Author Verlin Darrow knows of what he writes. As a local who just happens to be a psychotherapist, he’s familiar with the many personality quirks portrayed by the characters in this engaging mystery.
Private investigator Karl Gatlin narrates this tale with a funny, irreverent matter-of-fact attitude reminiscent of David Rosenfeld’s Andy Carpenter character. Author Darrow gives Gatlin a firm, confident voice as he navigates among some fairly strange humans while investigating the unexpected appearance of a dismembered body in a wishing well.
Gatlin’s new client, Aria Piper, is a teacher/guru whose calm and peaceful sanctuary is violated by the above-referenced body. Her employees and students must be cleared of any involvement in the murder. Aria is a rather appealing femme fatale who draws Gatlin’s attention. They knew each other in the past as both studied psychology. Gatlin abandoned the practice for investigative work.
Author Darrow introduces his characters at a measured pace which allows his readers to follow the complexity of the relationships among them, including many family ties. The action takes place around the Monterey and Santa Cruz bay areas. Happily, Darrow satisfies readers familiar with the locale with accuracy as Gatlin travels around seeking answers.
Well recommended for mystery lovers.
A review copy was provided by a publicist.