Book Review: Death Grip by Elaine Viets @evmysterywriter @severnhouse

Death Grip
An Angela Richman, Death Investigator Mystery (Book 4)
Elaine Viets
Severn House Publishers, March 2021
ISBN 978-0-7278-9018-4
Hardcover

This is the 4th book in the Death Investigator Series.  It is set in Chouteau County, Missouri. The heroine, Angela Richman, is a Death Investigator who is called out to examine and gather evidence when a death has occurred.

At the outset of the story Angela is called to a densely wooded area of the County. There, Detective Jace Budewitz leads her to the body found by a hiker, and suggests that the isolated area might well be a  ‘body dump’.

Angela is joined by another colleague, a CSI tech, and together they begin to gather evidence. Angela photographs the victim and collects and identifies anything that might offer a clue to the identity of the deceased or the perpetrator.

Her colleague, after studying the body, believes it belongs to Terri Gibbons, a high school track and field athlete who went missing eight months ago.

Two more bodies are also found in the area and arrangements are made to transport the victims for examination by a forensic anthropologist.  It isn’t long before a rather damaging clue is discovered, a clue that points to a rich, powerful, well-known local bachelor who already has some questionable history with the police.

A search-warrant is issued which seemed somewhat premature, and when nothing incriminating is found, the investigation is temporarily derailed.

While I initially liked the set up and start of the book, it quickly veered off course and settled on Angela’s personal life;  her love for her dead husband, a possible new love interest, and her own lack of interest in moving on with her life.

Her struggle with not being ready for a new romance felt more like filler, passing the time until another line of inquiry brought the reader back to the mystery of the murders of the three women.

I was also surprised to learn that while Angela was a Death Investigator she was not a qualified Detective and was told not to interfere with the ongoing investigation.  She is, in fact, reprimanded for doing so and warned off.

This, however, doesn’t deter Angela from continuing to pursue the case, determined to uncover evidence against the wealthy bachelor. But once again the narrative moves between interviewing women who had previously worked for the suspect, and the budding romance with the newest member of the force.

The climax, although a touch contrived, is exciting, bringing the mystery to a satisfying conclusion.

While the book was a relatively fast read, my interest lagged at times. If you are a fan of this well known author you will no doubt enjoy Angela’s latest entry.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, July 2021.

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