Murder Off the Page
Can someone recreate themselves as another person? Can you hide behind your true self and let the world see your face, but you’ve invented another you? Controlling and demeaning a person can and did make someone snap and living an orderly and well programmed life took away this person’s ability to be herself and even smile. A husband who demanded compliance and treated her like an indentured servant or slave, we get to know both sides of this person as she enters the 42nd Street Library, asks to access the crime fiction section to research documents housed there that were written by Jayne Galloway her estranged mother. Using the name Shannon Darling and over friendly to male personnel she had an air of sadness, anger, subtlety and frivolity regarding life.
Shannon was a frequent visitor to this section of the Libra and Ray Ambler the curator would handle her requests. But Shannon had different personas one with intelligence and another wrapped around the men that intertwined around her life and needs. She was two people as we learned. Brian McNulty was a local bartender who had more than a customer relationship with Shannon.
Things are not always what they seem, and Shannon drank too much and Brian took her to her hotel room. But an investigator was looking into something for her and winds up dead in her room. Tom Doyle is victim one and the report he created would shock Shannon as we learn her alter ego or other personality as Sandra Dean the wife of controlling and abusive Simon Dean who we will come to know in many different lights in this novel. But Doyle was first and then Jayne Galloway is next was its Murder it was it something called an unattended death? Brian and Sandra/ Shannon had a close relationship and as Ambler and Adele read Jayne’s journals and diaries and then Sandra’s, the revelations are starting.
Mike Cosgrove the detective on the case has worked with Ray before and the respect is there but the control belongs to the detective.
Brian was with Sandra they think when she was killed and the only suspect but Ray refuses to believe that and uses the journals, the documents that Brian manages to get to him and the sense or chill you’ll get when you meet Simon Dean. Cold, chilling and controlling as we read and learn more about him the author created a character that belittled his wife in public and private. He treated her like a servant and refused and stopped her from seeing her own mother.
Jayne Galloway abandoned her daughter for another man after divorcing her father, but the truth would be hidden, and Sandra would never know that Dillion Wainwright the man her mother married wanted her to live with them, but Sandra became Shannon and men were her fun and life. Needy men who she could manipulate and who fell for her not realizing the superficial relationships meant nothing to her and her murder would bring this all out. Added in her daughter Carolyn might be another casualty of this abusive father and husband.
Simon’s sister takes a liking to Ran, setting off Adele’s anger alarm and things get tense. Added in he’s dealing with his grandson Johnny who lives with him, his coldhearted grandmother who does not want him visiting his father in jail and the threats of legal action.
Adele is often opinionated and quarrelsome and frustrates Ambler who is just trying to find a way to prove Brian’s innocence. Their relationship is close because of Johnny but her jealousy real regarding Andrea. Andrea is Simon’s sister and blindsided to a point about him yet realizing his serious faults and behavior towards Sandi. Sandi had low self-esteem and used these other men as an outlet for approval and feeling wanted. No one seemed to take interest in her, and Simon claimed he wanted her to come home but what is the truth?
When the journals are read , the emails between Jayne and Dillion enlighten both Ray and Mike creating a timeline for murder and more. Brian’s in jail, Ambler and Adele are feverishly hoping to solve the case and obstacles are blocking their path in many directions. Learning about the real Sandra, reading and hearing her thoughts and words author Con Lehane once again takes us inside the crime fiction section of the library, dealing with his boss Harry and Simon’s demands for the journals his wife left to the library in her will and then deep inside the damaged soul of a brilliant doctor who hid behind real self hoping that finding Brian and his caring nature and calm she would escape the chains that controlled her life.
Did she even know who she really was at times? Did the alcohol rule her actions? What about her daughter? When evidence comes to light about Simon the reason why Doyle had to be eliminated is clear.
A veil of darkness surrounded Sandi’s life and the only way she could survive was to hope that others would love and want her not caring why just in a superficial and needy way. A husband that was more than distant and unfeeling, a child that would never really know a mother’s love, a sister who was blindsided and one man that just wanted to protect her but at what cost?
The ending is tension filled and a killer has his two people as hostages and an unusual request is made to free them. Lives were lost, lies and betrayals are revealed, forgiveness is shadowed by a veil of deception as Ray, Adele and Mike must find a way to take down a cold-hearted killer before two more lives are lost. Some endings are new beginnings and some cases will still have question marks. Who killed Sandra/ Shannon? Who killed Doyle and why? What really happened to Jayne Galloway? Find out as you enter the library, read the journals and diaries and understand the meaning of Murder off the Page. Strong characters, fast paced plot and a suspense filled thriller that will keep you wanting more Ambler.
Fran Lewis: just reviews