Pianos and Penance
Formerly homeless, but with an uncanny knack for solving crimes, Giff becomes part of another mystery to solve that is, unfortunately, too close to home. Having snowed overnight, he offers a ride to his neighbor, Maris, and her friend, Renee, but when they arrive at Renee’s apartment, she is not to be found. Giff follows the clues and discovers her body discarded in the snow. His friend, Stephen, a police officer, puts Giff in touch with a retired officer, Boyd, and a small group is formed to investigate the murder at the request of Renee’s father. They begin collecting dots, which, when organized, will hopefully lead them to the answer, but there are so many seemingly unrelated bits of information that Giff becomes discouraged. When the members of the group are targeted, they know they need to find the killer, before the killer finds one of them.
This sequel to Monarchs and Mendicants is a fast-paced thriller written in a similar style as James Patterson’s Alex Cross series, with short chapters and brief descriptions. Though several references to the first book can be found in the text, it does not hinder the reading, nor make it confusing. Giff is a strong, but sensitive former Navy Seal who’s had a tough time adapting to civilian life, but is surprisingly expressive when discussing his feelings. As the romance blossoms, some of the dialogue may seem sentimental, but it is sweet in an honest, unexpected way. The exchanges between Boyd and Giff are quick-witted at times, enjoyable in their contrast to his romantic interactions. The references to St. Louis streets, landmarks, and high schools, which only a St. Louisan will understand, will delight any native of the Gateway to the West. Readers who enjoy Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, or any thriller that has more twists and turns than a roller coaster, will welcome this tale.