Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mirage by Nancy Gettleman

Published by Nightengale Press

Nancy Gettelman writes with an authenticity and realism I find comforting. It often feels as though she is personally telling me about something she has been doing. Of course, in the case of a murder mystery, that is not what she has been involved in other than trying to figure out "whodunit". The best way to describe this feeling is that parts of every story give me the feeling of familiarity. Exceptional physical descriptions of Milwaukee bring pictures to my mind. An awesome experience and very good writing to involve the reader to such an extent. If Gretchen Meier is typical of the people of Milwaukee, then I would put Milwaukee on my list of cities to visit.

Gretchen is a widow of several years with two grown sons working at a large beer distributorship. She has a very close relationship with her sons, and also with her mother-in-law. Immediately as the reader begins the story, Warren Reuter, the owner of the distributorship, is found dead in bed at his home. Assumed as an insulin overdose accidentally taken by the diabetic Warren himself, it takes a while for the coroner to discover this is not only a murder case, but the weapon and usage is very unusual. Gretchen is not your usual in-your-face nor butting-in-with-the-police type of protagonist, and most of her investigation is done in her thoughts. She thinks everything through thoroughly, she is very human and concerned about the people she suspects. She is also concerned about the fate of her sons, both as suspects and for their future in the business.

Who would have the knowledge and the motive to kill him? He was engaged to a young widow from California who sold her house at his request and moved to Milwaukee; she has a son who works in another town but visits her occasionally. He had recently offered to sell his share of the Green Bay distributorship to Gretchen's two sons, over the objection of his partner. Warren has two estranged sons. Who of these people and others would have a motive to kill him? Someone expecting to benefit from an inheritance? Who would have the special knowledge on how to kill him? Why does Marla, his fiancé, act so strangely? Life is, really, just a mirage. What we see is not necessarily real.

These are the questions that keep Gretchen awake at night and her mind will not leave her alone, especially once her sons become suspect. Enjoying her visits to talk with Warren's lawyer, Stephen Boswell, whom she has known socially for some time, they discover a mutual feeling of romantic interest. When his sister visits, she and Gretchen become fast friends, and Patricia encourages them. As a therapist, Patricia goes with Gretchen to visit Marla, and soon finds that she has a psychological personality disorder that has a bearing on Marla's isolation from the death, and which coincidentally also applies to Warren. She feels that both show signs of being sociopaths.

These are the bare bones of this latest book by Nancy Gettelman, enjoyable, suspenseful, and with psychological intrigue. There is enough in this book to make it part of a series, if the author wishes to. I think the combination of Gretchen, Stephen, and Patricia would make an excellent team for private or amateur investigation. Another intriguing novel for Nancy Gettelman, every one very different, and every one interesting.

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