I reviewed the first book in Jason Richards’ Drew Patrick mystery series the other day. I told you I thought the book not well written, but that I appreciated the spirit of the thing. I liked the hero and his supporting cast, and the positive atmosphere.
So I invested in Shattered, the second book in the series. I hoped author Richards might have learned a little with the passage of time, or perhaps got an editor to help him.
Alas, there’s been no improvement on the writing front.
I like it that Drew has a traditional PI’s office above a Cambridge, Mass. city street. Such offices in hard-boiled mysteries always give me a warm, homey feeling – and it’s nice having Drew’s beagle mix, Dash, there to keep us company.
A couple named Jeffrey and Cynthia Holland are the clients who come to the office this time out. Their daughter Ashley has disappeared, and they’re concerned. They don’t want to go to the police, because they fear publicity.
Alas, Ashley is dead already. Her murder seems to be tied to the deaths of some other attractive young women – young women who, it turns out, had been working for a high class escort service, and had been involved with the same man – a high-powered Hollywood studio owner.
There’s not much mystery in this one; author Richards identifies the guilty party early on, making the plot a race against the clock to prevent the next murder.
It seemed to me a lot of opportunities to raise the dramatic tension were lost here. The guilty party could have been concealed, for one thing. And instead of the cops loving Drew and being happy to have him pitch in, they could have resented him and blocked his efforts, in the more plausible tradition of cops in the hard-boiled genre. There could have been conflict between Drew and his girlfriend Jessica.
Also, dramatic opportunities were lost. The character of Cynthia Holland, Ashley’s mother, is intriguing, but we don’t get to know her very well.
And there were lots of writing problems. Mistaken use of homonyms. Spelling errors. Overwriting – Drew tells us more than we need to know, and explains himself too much. A good editor would have cut this manuscript down by thousands of words.
So my verdict remains the same. I salute and appreciate the author’s effort. But he’s not writing very good books at this point. I hope he ups his game.