Killer Nashville Book of the Day
Panther’s Prey by Lachlan Smith
Reviewed by G. Robert Frazier
Remember those old Ellery Queen whodunits that listed an extensive cast of characters at the front of the book to help readers keep track of who’s who? Well, if you read Lachlan Smith’s newest Leo Maxwell mystery, Panther’s Prey (Mysterious Press), you may want to keep such a list handy.
The book opens with Maxwell and fellow attorney Jordan Walker representing a client, Randall Rodriguez, a mentally ill homeless man whom they contend falsely confessed to the rape of a young San Francisco socialite. But once they get the man off the hook, their real trouble begins. Jordan is raped and murdered and Rodriguez, again, confesses to a crime he did not commit. Maxwell, whose gun was used in the murder, comes under suspicion as well and, to clear his name and identify the real killer, he must uncover a trail of clues from both his past and present.
The novel is a thickly layered, old-fashioned gumshoe mystery in which everyone has a motive for murder and a secret to be revealed that could help Maxwell solve his most personal case yet. It’s the fourth installment in the series and, for readers unfamiliar with Maxwell, the story can be a bit complicated at times because there is so much to catch up on. Smith does a good job relating the highlights of past books in the series, but the number of characters and intricate histories makes it a little challenging for the first-time reader to get fully up to speed.
That’s not to say the book isn’t enjoyable. Like a work by Queen, it’s a riveting mystery fraught with peril for our hero, and twists at every turn. The narrative moves at a swift pace, with plenty of action thrown in to keep the pages turning. An attorney himself, Smith uses his expertise in the courtroom to craft a believable and twist-filled plot: the thoughtful execution of clues and Maxwell’s persistence to learn the truth that will keep you guessing.
G. Robert Frazier is a writer and avid reader living in La Vergne, Tenn. He reads for the Nashville Film Festival and Austin Film Festival screenwriting competitions and is an active member of the Tennessee Screenwriters Association, Nashville Writers Meetup groups, and La Vergne Library Board. Follow him on Twitter @grfrazier23, and visit his Adventures in Writing blog at https://grfrazier.wordpress.com.
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