One of Us
A Tower District Mystery #1
Lorie Lewis Ham
Mystery Rat’s Books, July 2021
From the author—
At 35, children’s book author Roxi Carlucci finds herself starting over again after her publisher drops her book series. With no income, she has to pack up her life on the California Coast, along with her pet rat Merlin, and move in with her cousin, P.I. Stephen Carlucci, who lives in Fresno, CA. The one redeeming factor is that Stephen lives in the Tower District—the cultural oasis of Fresno.
Stephen talks Roxi into helping out with a community theatre production, which is also a fundraiser for a local animal rescue. Little did she know that someone would be murdered during a rehearsal, and that she and Stephen would be hired to find the killer. The killer has to be one of Roxi’s new acquaintances since the theatre was locked at the time of the murder, but no one seems to have a motive. How can they solve a murder without a motive? Could the local gossip website hold any clues? Can they stop the killer before they strike again?
More years ago than I care to think about, I first “met” Lorie Lewis Ham and her Alexandra Walters mystery series featuring a gospel singer. The last volume came out in 2010 and I’ve frequently thought about those books, wishing there were more, but that wasn’t to be.
Then, one day earlier this year, Lorie let me know that she was starting a new series and I could not have been happier with the news. One of Us is very different and Roxi Carlucci is not Alexandra Walters but Lorie‘s touch is still there, very evident in her character building and her creation of a cracking good mystery.
Roxi experiences what too many authors do in having her publisher drop her and it only adds insult to injury when other circumstances pile on and force her to give up her home. Luckily, Roxi’s cousin, private investigator Stephen Carlucci, offers her a new place to live and so Roxi’s reinvented life begins. She could not have known that getting involved with a theater production would lead to her setting out on a new career as a private detective alongside her cousin but that sort of thing tends to happen when (1) you find a murder victim and (2) you have a naturally sleuth-y mind.
I’m so glad that Ms. Ham is publishing again and to find that she still has a fine hand with crime fiction, keeping the tension high and offering all sorts of red herrings and nuggets of potential leads. I also enjoyed meeting Roxi and Stephen again since they were both characters in the prior series. One of Us is a terrific start to this new venture and I can’t wait to see what will happen next in Roxi’s life…and to see more of a charming little pet rat named Merlin😄.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2021.