Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Murder by the Numbers: The Righteous ONE, An Enneagram Mystery by Richard Hicks
The first in a rather different mystery series, has the victim been murdered? Was it a suicide? An mercy killing? Richard Hicks has hit it on the nose with his new series. Chief Eddie DeSilva has just taken early retirement under pressure. His wife had died 10 months earlier in the final throes of cancer, and he has been under a psychologist's care since a shooting incident which, though considered clean, gave rise to suspicions that he was not coping with his wife's death nor having killed a man in the line of duty.
In his reality, he is aware that he is no longer with the department, but his sense of justice will not let him go. When his psychologist, Pauline Graham, asks him for help for a friend of hers, he finds himself drawn into a case he has no business being in. But her friend is believed to have administered a fatal dose of drugs to her father, in terrible pain in his anticipated last few days of terminal illness. Assisted suicide could be construed as murder and the police have arrested Allison
We are introduced to the field of Enneagrams in this series, a personality typing system used by psychologists, therapists, business executives as a method of understanding personalities for whatever direction their particular business takes them. Pauline, a strong supporter of the Enneagram, is convinced that it is not possible for Allison to perform this act, nor for her very religiously faithful and upstanding Catholic father to commit suicide.
Eddie takes on the case like the bulldog he has always been, calling in favors from friends on the force, jeopardizing them with the new police chief, and putting himself in disfavor with her as well. He has gone from being a favorite among the department to a liability and warned off the case, but he just can't leave it alone.
Since his wife's death, Eddie has been sleeping on his boat, but suddenly it seems he has become a target when someone sabotages his boat, then causes a near-fatal accident. Having been a police chief for so many years, these incidents are treated as possible revenge acts by ex-cons. Everything starts to heat up, though, and it's anybody's guess what is really going on. A surprise admission of guilt redirects the whole case of the possible mercy killing. Within hours the case is redirected again as the pace gets faster and faster until the last red herring is pitched, leaving us wondering how many "accidents", how many deaths, how many secrets were part and parcel of this great first novel. I'm ready for the next one. Well-written and flowing, characterizations spot-on, subject matter quite fascinating. If you're looking for a new series, look no further.