Sunday, October 29, 2017

Review of A Burning Truth by Kelli Keith

Book Review

Kelli Keith
October 28, 2017
Book Title:
A Burning Truth (Book 2 in the Cady Delafield Series)
Book Author:
Joyce Proell
Date of Publication:
February 3, 2014
Number of Pages:
Main Characters:
Arcadia “Cady” Delafield is the administrator for the Women’s Prepartory School.  The devotion to her students leads Cady to unsavory places, putting her in danger.  The relationship she’s developed with Mr. Flanagan is strained and on the verge of ending.
Doyle Flanagan is a wealthy businessman continuously cloaked in controversy.  He was shunned from high society when his wife’s, Millicent, suicide was investigated as a murder—with him as the prime suspect.  After his name was cleared, life seemed to be getting back to normal, when another murder occurs at his factory.

Other Important Characters:

Addison Brown is a dodgy English business owner (and direct competitor of Mr. Flanagan’s) that recently relocated to Chicago.  He courts Cady’s mother in a whirlwind romance that leads to an even quicker engagement.
Inspector Middendorf is the lead investigator of the murder cases.  His contempt toward Flanagan, again, interferes with his objectivity.  His only goal is to arrest Flanagan and put him behind bars, forever.
Chicago, Illinois; April, 1881.
Doyle Flanagan is yet again thrust into the center of controversy.  Two murders and a theft occur at his factory, seemingly tied to the International Worker’s Party.  With union rumblings nearing an eruption, Doyle and Cady must solve the mystery behind the factory murders. They must discover the puppet master who is pulling the strings before everything comes unraveled.
Key Points/Conflict:
Five weeks after Edward Villard admits to a series of murders and ends his life, we find Cady and Doyle still recovering from the events--Cady is having nightmares and Doyle is tender from his a gunshot wound.  Just as they believe life is settling into an even pace, Doyle’s office is robbed of its accounting ledgers and the night watchman is discovered, brutally murdered.  Clues left behind at the scene point to the International Worker’s Party (IWP.)  With union rumblings on the verge of erupting, Doyle who considers himself a fair businessman, finds himself the target of their wrath. 
Addison Brown has become a fixture in the Prentice household, wooing Mimi with rabid enthusiasm.  Cady and Grace are underwhelmed by the man and sense is intentions are dishonorable.  When Cady sees him exiting the infamous Hibernia Club, her suspicion is further piqued.  The involvement of a man known as Hibernia Joe (Joe Malone, owner of Hibernia Saloon,) in the murders and IWP upheaval becomes more and more evident.  Is Brown in collusion with the IWP?  Is he the puppet master? Many unanswered questions surround the Englishman.
Inspector Middendorf is the lead investigator in the murders and also in charge of wrangling the IWP rallies—the biggest scheduled next to Doyle’s factory.  Although the police’s inquiries into the murders is going through the motions, there seems to be no advancement made.  Mr. Flanagan believes Middendorf’s grudge prevents him from properly investigating the matters. 
As the eve of the rally looms, the suspicion, fear, and chaos intensifies.  Cady seeks out Doyle and ends up finding Mr. Brown. The intentions of Brown are revealed and he they are nefarious.  He attempts to cover his dirty deeds by disposing of Cady.  Will Doyle arrive in time to save her? 
Again, the reader is immediately thrust into the meat of a murder/mystery; we find our two main characters out for the evening, where they stumble upon the body of the night watchman to Doyle’s factory. This scene sets the tone for the remainder of the book.  The descriptions and dialogue are on par with the Victorian period, with some verbal anachronisms. 
The characters are unevenly developed throughout the book.  Cady’s character was well defined in the first book of the series. If read as a standalone, a reader may find her character a bit flat and neurotic.  Doyle, on the other hand, is more developed and interesting.  His character takes center stage and relieves Cady of her starring role. The back-and-forth of Cady and Doyle’s relationship will give the reader whiplash.  It seems more erratic than necessary, leaving the reader to wish they would go their separate ways.  At times, the dialogue of their tiffs take away from the storyline and causes the reader to become a bit distracted.
Throughout the book there were few issues with continuity, the main one in chapter 24, when Cady refers to the night watchmen as Potter instead of Tatter. 
Some of the minor characters that disappeared throughout the first book did not reappear, leaving unanswered questions.  If this is read as a standalone, it is not an issue, and the reader will be none the wiser. 

A Burning Truth is available on Amazon, Kobo, at Barnes & Noble, and the Champagne Bookstore.

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