Monday, April 27, 2020

Book Review: A HIGH PRICE TO PAY Madeline Dawkins Mysteries Book 2 by Cynthia Hamilton


Madeline’s dual professions as event coordinator and private investigator cross paths during the most lavish affair of her career—a weekend-long fortieth birthday extravaganza for the wife of a famous film director. A simple background check after the disappearance of precious family jewels quickly turns into a murder investigation, and before Madeline and Mike can put the pieces together, another body turns up. As the Santa Barbara police and sheriff’s departments search for clues, the Mad Dog P.I.’s use their own methods to untangle the crimes, discovering some unsavory truths behind the glittering façade of their clients.

Adding to Madeline’s already overflowing plate, the D.A. informs her that Rick Yeoman, one of the men who had abducted her three years earlier, has been prematurely released from prison after cutting a deal with the Feds. Besides fearing reprisals from the man she helped to convict, his parole also triggers the reappearance of soulless Lionel Usherwood, lured out of his hideaway by the call of revenge. When Yeoman’s body surfaces in Lake Cachuma, Usherwood moves on to the next target: Madeline.


Madeline hasn't resolved the effects of being abducted, her husband's duplicity and murder, or her own vulnerability. One effect was her getting training as a private investigator and in self-defense. Although she and Mike have opened the PI agency, she still maintains her event coordinator business. As the times gets closer for the 40th birthday for an obnoxious client who has gone over the top, Madeline is asked to look into the disappearance of some jewels, without telling anyone. Add to that stress, the unexpected release of Lionel Usherwood, the man who abducted and terrorized her three years before. And he's leaving a trail of bodies, Madeline's unnerved, and Mike is concerned for her safety.

There's an element of the closed room mystery here, with comings and goings recorded to the murder scene. The jewelry issue is murky and may or may not be related. The threat of Usherwood is evident as other possible loose ends are eliminated. There is tension and conflict across the board. It keeps the story moving and the reader reading. This is the second in the Madeline Dawkins Mystery. It can be read as a stand alone. I read it as a stand alone. I'd recommend you read the first one first to be grounded in the Usherwood part of the story. 

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