This is the first of a series based on the main character, Wolf Mallory – and I am definitely going to read more. It’s been a while since I enjoyed a light mystery as much as I did this. Though it technically meets the definition of a “cozy” mystery (sleuth who is not a professional cop/detective/private eye), Neal *Wolf* Mallory does have some background in interrogation. After all, he was in military intelligence with the Marines.
In this book, an old friend and fellow Marine, Vinnie, has asked Wolf to help with a friend of Vinnie’s – a woman who is being charged with the murder of her lover. Though Wolf doesn’t really want to get involved—after all, he’s got his own legal problems—once he meets Vicky, he can’t refuse. He knows on a gut level that she’s innocent, but how to prove it when even her lawyer and his investigator believe she’s guilty.
The story goes through the usual issues with murder, embezzlement, greed, jealousy, and more. But there’s also friendship, love, support, and more. One thing the author does exceedingly well is descriptions. The story takes place on one of the islands off the west coast of Florida and you feel like you’re really there. The heat, the humidity, the gulf waters…all vivid, but not overpowering. It cements the setting in your mind.
Wolf is a good character with morals and issues that make him real. His relationship with Vicky grows from their time together and is not just a case of lust that will last only until the case is solved. But this is not a romance so don’t expect a bunch of flowers and violins. The building relationship only adds to the story but does not overtake it. The murder is still the point of the story that everything else revolves around.
If you’re looking for a nice light read with a male lead character, I’d definitely recommend this one. Yes, there are a few loose ends left dangling that I assume will continue in future books, but the overall story is solved with a satisfying ending. I’m looking forward to more Wolf Mallory stories.