Murder in the Dog Days: P.M. Carlson
Newscasters and news reporters take chances every time they air a story that critics will criticize the way they present their material. But, what happens when on reporter digs too deep, checks into things too much and learns something that risks his life? Olivia Kerr is a reporter along with Nate Rosen for the Mosby-Sun Dispatch. Both are excellent at what they do yet each one wants to get the final scoop on the latest and hottest news. Olivia realizes that the weather is perfect for the beach and invites a group of friends to join her for the day. Rewrites on stories, hoping to get a trip to a better paper, Olivia and Nate want the spotlight. But, Dale Colby has been handed the hottest assignment to look into a fatal plane crash killing everyone but the person who owned the plane who did not go on this fateful flight. The plane crash story is the hottest item around and the widow of a famous politician is unhappy with the outcome and what is being printed. Jerry Ryan is Olivia’s boyfriend and a doctor, along with Donna Colby, Dale’s wife and her two daughters Tina and Josie will join Olivia at the beach. Added in Jerry Ryan’s sister Maggie and her husband Nick. But, Dale requests that Donna leave him his lunch, he will take a much-needed nap and then get to work on his main story. Things take on an ugly turn when the thunderclouds ruin their fun in the sun and they return home to find something unexpected. Knocking on the door, trying to call Dale and seeing the door is locked from the inside no one expected to find Dale slumped over and dead. Fear and horror are just two of the emotions that are evoked as Maggie realizes that something happened to Dale. Trying to pry open the door does not work so someone has to find a way to get in and hopefully learn what happened to Dale. Taking her daughter along with her Maggie, and the others yelled and screamed hoping Dale would open the door. But, the sight of him slumped over and Maggie trying to figure out if he is dead or alive creates a scene that the police are not thrilled with. Tampering with the murder scene and leaving unnecessary prints is just the start of an investigation that will take the lead detective Holly Shreiner to delve inside the mind of Dale Colby reporter on one side, father and husband on the other side and possibly a third view or side too.
On page 29 the author shares the crime scene in detail with readers as we see the body sprawled on its back between the typing table and the recliner followed by the injuries and more done to Dale. Congressman Knox is the man who owned the plane that was downed so why did he make it out in the papers that the family of those dead were better of now? Then we learn about Dale’s three children: Mark from his first wife Felicity and Josie and Tina from Donna. Olivia worked with Dale but both wanted to work on the plane crash story. When Donna was asked about the chain of events returning home, she is vague, unsure and appears shocked and upset.
Dale was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and often felt depressed, angry and could not focus yet he forged ahead. When the doctor prescribed L-dopa he had to deal with some of the side effects but eventually got better and was able to function and concentrate more.
Even though Dale appeared to be on the mend so to speak, his temper often flared, his actions violent and the recipient of his ire was Donna and towards the end his daughter Josie. Dale hated imperfections, late dinners, late arrivals and not even understanding that traffic stood in Donna’s way or that Josie just wanted to please her father, he took out his frustrations on both of them but for how long did this go on.
When Donna finally comes clean and tells it all to those involved they wondered why she did not call the police or at least get him some help. Fear, guilt, denial and much more comes through when you hear her voice.
Detective Shreiner is thorough, smart and yet at times too vulnerable when speaking with Maggie who seems to pry into the lives of everyone involved and hits a serious chord when realizing that Holly Shreiner was in Viet Nam, saw action, lived the deaths of so many and is haunted by the memories. One neighbor claimed to see someone at Donna’s door before the murder but who was it and what did he really see.
As the investigation moves along the children are upset but Josie disappears and everyone seems panicked and does not know what to do. Some say she’ll turn up and yet for some reason Maggie knows where she might be hiding. Fear, unhappiness, confusion and the death of a father that was not nice to her, yet she loved is just some of what the author brings out when we hear Josie’s voice.
Lies, betrayals, uncovered information regarding someone close to the investigation comes out as Holly learns through Olivia that there is a leak at the newspaper, someone finds out information about the plane crash as we hear the voice of the widow Resler who explains her goals about the foundation she hopes to create helping ex-cons and why. But, Dale learned something about the crash and someone could be identified and blackmail becomes part of the equation but who was being blackmailed and why? When the pieces of the puzzle finally fit into the frame, Maggie seems to be the one who figured out who the killer is. One simple flick of something and then it all came together for her as Dale Colby died because of someone’s desire to take action and finally rid the world of this cruel man. The ending makes you wonder if this person will face a trial, admit guilt or as the finally sentence states: YOU DECIDE! Spoken to the killer. But, was it really murder? The days are hot, the summer is sweltering and the murder fit right in with the DOG DAYS of Summer.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine
I want to read this series, especially since it takes place in the 60s/70s.
I like exploring the gray areas where the law is right, but clumsy or even harmful to values like love or fairness. Thanks for a thoughtful review!