The Gingerbread Man

Read:  2015

Author:  Maggie Shayne

Published:  2013

Genre:  Mystery

Pages:  336 (paperback)

Selected By:  Lady Esbe

Lady Esbe’s Score:  Scoring It Was OK Book

“After promising a distraught mother he’d find her missing children, Detective Vince O’Mally discovers their mutilated corpses in an abandoned house.  Tormented by images of the horrific crime scene, Vince is forced to quit the case by his superiors and take a vacation.  Instead, Vince heads to Dilmun, a small town in upstate New York, to follow up a seemingly insignificant lead.  At the town’s tiny police department, Vince meets Holly Newman, a pretty but troubled woman who has never recovered from losing her own sister to a child killer more than twenty years ago.  Convinced the cases are connected, Vince pushes Holly to recall long buried memories; in the process, he falls in love with her.  With a kille ron their trail and another child’s abduction augmenting their sense of urgency, Holly and Vince team up with the local police and FBI to track down the killer.” – from the Amazon summary.

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Lady Esbe’s Review

It has been a long while since I’ve completed an interim review.  I was looking forward to another good mystery.  The synopsis made me think this had the potential.  However, that is not the case.  I was mostly put off by the in depth probing of Detective Vince O’Mally’s emotional issues along with those of Holly.  Yes, people carry their baggage into their different situations.  However, the focus of the book was not on solving the crime, but on their baggage.  All investigation and resolution seemed to be incidental to the characters wading through their emotional quagmires.

I was excited at the potential for a great mystery to be woven into the story.  Children, mostly young girls have been abducted, raped and murdered and the detective on the case has taken a personal interest in seeking justice for them.  To me, building the mystery around who the perpetrator could be, the path the investigation took and so forth should have been at the fore.  Not so much.  The author was more interested in the two main characters fighting their attraction (one harder than the other) to one another and the subsequent falling into bed scene.  While much of the investigation hinged on memories that needed to be unlocked by Holly, there was very little done in real investigation and forensics.  In fact, it was more a muddling through to find the culprit of the crimes.

Vince struggles throughout the book in trying to maintain a professional distance.  He is well aware of his flaws and is fighting his attraction to the female lead of the book.  The only real detecting we get from Vince is his springing into action to review reports, receive faxes, etc.  However, we don’t get any analysis of the information.  He doesn’t follow leads traditionally during the course of the book, but things fall into his lap here and there.  Ultimately, it’s not Vince who breaks the case wide open.  This I find disappointing, why is the professional not allowed to thrive in his career in this book?  Instead, we rely on the likes of the traumatized Holly to lead the charge.

Holly escapes the abductor as a child and she carries a great deal of survivor’s guilt because she was unable to save her sister Ivy.  Holly’s surviving the ordeal has put her into a state of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that has her counting in her head, doing all things in a particular order or risk having a panic attack.  She is forced to face the traumatic past when Vince arrives into her small hamlet to investigate the murder of two children from Syracuse.  Holly is painfully aware of her shortcomings and strives very hard to try to conquer her fears with the support of Vince, Chief Mallory and Dr. Graycloud.  Her falling into Vince’s arms was annoying to me.  I’d rather have her focus on the problem at hand, helping Vince locate the child predator, while dealing with her emotional trauma, versus diving into a relationship with the cop who is in town to run down the lead.  Ultimately, I do like that Holly is a protector, but also needs protecting herself, yet she always finds a way to pull it together to help those around her.

I did enjoy the supporting character of Reggie D’Voe and his eccentric behavior.  As the town’s very own horror movie actor, he sports a menacing voice when he feels it’s called for but has a strong affection for the children of the small town of Dilmun.  He’s great at his job and loves putting on the haunted house/Halloween party for the town.  He’s protective of his niece, Amanda and as the story goes on, you are able to piece together Amanda’s true identity before Shayne haphazardly tosses it out there.  Furthermore, her heavy handed delivery of the killer, with very lead into why he should be a suspect was a quick resolution when there was so many opportunities to tease us with his ill deeds and the actual efforts that were taken to locate the killer.

Overall, I didn’t hate it exactly.  However, it wasn’t great as the stars listed on Amazon afforded it.  I’ll not likely read the author again, but it was an alright showing.

Esbe read the Kindle version of this book.

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