Deceived: Laura Wharton
Sometimes life can be unpredictable and the outside façade of a person hiding their real persona. When stopping at a small convenience store, Detective Sam McClellan and his partner, Lee, never expect the end result. A bag of Fritos would cost Lee his life as someone decided to take a shot at Lee while in Sam’s car. Imagine seeing your best friend and partner blown to pieces and having to deal with more than just the fall out. Finding his way back to his home, a houseboat, Sam finds himself facing even more destruction. Someone has targeted him but why? Someone has ransacked his boat leaving him to wonder what he or she were looking for and what he might know that would cause this to happen. But, although some would think that this is a drive by shooting and a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, deceptions will be revealed, lies uncovered in a small and quiet town where a strong undercurrent is about to rise and deep secrets will come to the surface. Drugs, prostitution, betrayals, cover-ups and distrust are just some of what author Laura Wharton uncovers for readers in the first of her many mystery’s: Deceived.
Sam’s first stop is to speak with Lee’s wife Jenny and what he sees when he enters her beach cottage is evidence that someone had been searching in her den without her noticing or knowledge. Questions arise about his death and murder is definitely the cause but Sam returns to his boat finding it ransacked and wonders what Lee was working on that got him killed. Within this small town there are many strangers and one named Delores meets with him and Sam becomes enlightened about some nefarious characters and wants to find out what he was working on that he did not know about and why whatever it was got him murdered.
This is just the beginning of Sam’s woes as someone decided to run him off the road and poor Sam is found by an unlikely soul named Molly Monroe. Brash, crass and definitely a match for Sam she sees him in his car thinking that he is hurt or worse. Unknowingly to Sam, she appears out of nowhere, decides to search his pockets to steal his wallet and claiming when caught that she was just trying to help him. But, Sam is smart, astute and has no thought of believing her. Molly Monroe shows up out of nowhere and sees him in his wrecked car and Sam finds himself almost like a victim. But, when events are revealed and Molly explains about her brother and his dealings with drug smugglers who just might be at the heart of what Lee was working on Sam realizes that there is much more to learn and begins to investigate. Taking time off from work and wanting to return his superior tells him to focus on a fire at a hotel. As he learns more about the cause, the car that crashed into the pier and the cause of the damage and fire to the hotel, will the cases link? As Molly won’t let the incident go and finds her way to Sam’s boat, what she reveals will change the direction of the investigation; help him understand why she wants to partner with him and how her brother and Lee’s deaths are linked. Someone in the force is working with drug dealers but who? A fishery is the drop off point where the sales are made and transactions completed so why doesn’t the coast guard intervene? Added in beware not to irritate Molly or upset her because she might put a curse on you and you won’t like the outcome.
Sam and Molly learn just who might be behind the drugs and the criminal activities. When Sam is evicted from the dock where he keeps his boat and winds up with Molly on hers they contact someone close to her who knows the score. Lives are in danger and when Molly and Sam team up what happens will endear you to her and the end result is somewhat tragic as she and Sam become targets in a dangerous game. Truths revealed and lie come out and why is the Chief of Police burying what is happening? Who is behind this and they are able to put an end to the killings before it’s too late?
When the truth comes out no one is safe and when Molly and Jenny are taken hostage will Sam be able to find them? Just who else is involved and how many dirty cops are there? Just how far up does the corruption go as one person’s brother seems to be the main focus for where the drugs are sent and another uses her business to bring them in. Deceits, lies, deceptions go deep within a police department that is supposed too spotless. Friendships are tested and loyalties are broken as Sam with the help of someone named Hoops and one loyal friend named Eddie hopes to stop what so many have put into place. Author Laura Wharton takes readers deep inside the mind of Police Chief who justifies his actions or non-action while others are benefitting from greed.
Tripp Johnson’s fishery business is where the action is and Jimbo was a runner that worked with Molly’s brother before he was killed. Prostitution, drugs, murder, affairs, deceptions and an art gallery owner used as a mule, Deceived is filled with many deceptions and many falsehoods that Sam manages to uncover. But, when the honest truth is revealed and Jenny and Molly are taken hostage and Sam hopes to find before it’s too late. But, the Blue Moon Gallery is where Lisa Owens has her paintings. When Sam learns about her many phone calls to Johnson’s Fish Company the wide net seems to become shorter and the end result leaves Sam in danger. Just when he thinks he is safe someone comes and blindsides him once again. A hospital visit, the hope of eliciting help from someone higher up and an affair that is uncovered as careers are under scrutiny, Sam needs to decide where he’s going next and the connection between him and Molly is realized. Will he stop what no one else seems to be able to stop? Is anyone on the force not on the take?
Author Laura Wharton created a character in Sam McClellan that is persistent, determined, honest, trustworthy, smart, astute, caring, perceptive and loyal. Never once giving up on his quest for answers and finding out the truth about who killed his partner Sam McClellan proved to be a definite threat to the killers and those involved and it might cost him more than his life. AN ending that will surprise readers and a takedown that’s all girl power Deceived is a really great first mystery novel starring a great cast of characters filled with local color, wild antics, humor and a definite touch of class. So, let’s hope Sam in her next novel Stung has both Molly and Jenny along to help solve the cases. But, first take a trip to this small town of Southport, smell the salty air, feel the mist of your face, take out a boat for the day and have your own nautical experience.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews