Practice to Deceive: J.R. LIndermuth
Someone who strives to have people believe something that is not true in order to get some personal advantage, create an illusion or mistaken impression is someone out to create a deception. There are times when appearances can be quite deceptive and someone whom you trust might turn out to be quite unsavory. A Jamaican cruise turns more than just deadly as retired police chief Daniel “Sticks” Hetrick and his girl friend Anita Bailey venture out on the high seas to spend some quality time together. Back home Officers Flora Vastine and Harry Minnich have more than they can handle as the plot unfolds and the characters are revealed but the deception begins way before.
A man comes into the funeral home owned by Arnie Templin and asks to avail himself of his services to have a body cremated. Not really looking into the cause of the person’s death, nor did he care about the circumstances surrounding his death; it never dawned on him that his client’s motives were anything but innocent. Body cremated, check deposited and truth behind this revealed as we move to the high seas and meet Sticks and Anita.
Enjoying their vacation and hoping for some quality time together, prosecutor Anita and Dan now a consultant for the department in Swatara Creek, planning their fun on this trip.
Officer Harry Minnich is driving in his cruiser when he almost hits a young lady. Jessica Kerlin came out of nowhere shaken, afraid and her story would set off a chain of events that would rock this town, uncover what most would refer to as pedophiles within their community and send shock waves throughout the entire police department and put one officer in danger. Bringing her into the station he asks Officer Flora to question her hoping she will reveal who abducted her, what he looked like and hopefully will help catch this person. But, most cases are not that easily solved and the investigation heats up, more victims are attacked and one dies. Just who is after these young people, why and the reason you won’t believe.
While Harry and Flora have their hands full with these attacks, illegal dog fights, traffic accidents and a death, Hetrick and Anita become involved in a deadly game on board their cruise ship. First, a series of robberies alerts the passengers that they better protect their valuables and not leave them unattended when out of their staterooms. Jewelry, money and other things were stolen and the thief is quite clever and seems to have eluded the security force on board the ship. But some of the passengers reported the thefts but one man has requested his services, stated he would pay him quite a bit of money if he would retrieve a particular items he lost. Explaining he was retired, not interested and would think about it, the man never tells him exactly what was taken and his suspicious nature takes over as he begins questioning other guests on the ship, finds his way inside the security office and begins assisting in the investigation.
As the new chief of police Brubaker with the help of his officers decides on their strategy to find the attacker not realizing that the murders on the high seas just might link more than everyone suspects together. The strange assaults on the young women cause Officer Flora to take matters into her own hands getting her in hot water with her superiors but she is headstrong, smart and seems to know where to look for the answers. Digging in the past of one young girl who died what appeared as a car accident reveals that she might have left something behind that would help reveal the person who might be after these young girls. But, why?
Hetrick learns more about Melvin Marcuse as we meet his wife Lenore, get to know her as someone whose light bulb appears to be dull, but find out that there is much more to her than meets the eye. When someone is out to deceive, lie and pretend when the layers are uncovered what you learn will change your perception in more ways than one. As the Jamaican police come to investigate we learn that they are not concerned about the thefts but that Melvin Marcuse has been murdered, guilty of fraud, did two stints in prison and the end result would link him to yet a second murder of a scuba diving instructor. Appearances are not what they seem and in order to begin again one man fakes his death, pretends to start over again, leaves his old life but sometimes your past comes back into your present when a sudden flash, a look or a partial recognition by someone will change it all.
Going against his better judgment at first Forbes, the man heading the investigation decides to enlist Hetrick’s help and together they are relentless, find out the connection between Marcuse and the scuba instructor, Ward Frey and one other woman Denise Carr. As Denise seems uneasy around him at first, decides to beg off of an outing with all of the friends, we begin to understand that she is hiding something but what and why? When questioned by Forbes and Hetrick, with Anita present, she is angry, secretive and does not reveal much at first. What we finally learn about her, her relationship with Frey, who he really is and how he created the biggest deception of all, you will have to read for yourself.
While enlisting the help of his old team back in Swatara, Hetrick learns the true identity of Frey, his relationship with Marcuse and another lie is revealed when Lenore Marcuse confesses to something else. But, the thief is caught, but the items lost by Marcuse are not found and the end result will require the FBI getting involved, the resources of the both Hetrick and the FBI and the clever computer skills of Flora. Relaxing on the high seas does not seems so relaxing as author J.R. Lindermuth sets us on a bumpy ride on the this ocean voyage filled with rough waters you might say, dangerous currents and a ending you just won’t believe.
As Flora takes matters into her own hands and several of the victims confide in her we learn that there were many more incidents that happened in this small town and they have been covered up for many years. Teachers being investigated for doing things to young girls, one who placed a camera in the girl’s locker room, you begin to wonder why it took them so long to find out and why this person decided to reveal his hand after so long. When things start to come into place and Flora finds out where the attacks originated, why and who she becomes a prime target and the end result could be another murder. Will she find and stop the attacker before she becomes another victim or has a fatal accident? Why does she get reprimanded for taken action and trying to help the girls? Fear, nightmares, dread, afraid to be alone with a man, Jessica is haunted by what she thinks happened to her, who she thinks is after her and her actions are taken out but on who you won’t believe.
When the two cases begin to unfold, the police hoping to get to the bottom of the murders, the FBI steps in and wants to send the ship on its way and the investigation just might be at a standstill and a murderer allowed to escape. Author J.R. Lindermuth has Hetrick and Forbes racing time, the clock and hopefully able to stop a killer before its too late. Is it money, greed or something else behind these murders? Will the ship sail or will time stand still and allow him to finish what he started? This is one cruise that Hetrick and his friends will never forget and one town that will never be the same. The deceptions are many, the lies easily told and the only answers just might be in the ashes. This is one book that will keep you glued to the printed page until the FBI allows the ship to sail and hopefully a killer is caught.
Fran Lewis: reviewer