Friday, November 22, 2019

Book Review: 'A Woman to Blame' by Vincent Panettiere

A Woman to Blame by Vincent Panettiere

A bristlingly fine mystery

Los Angeles author Vincent Panettiere began his colorful career as a sports writer for a wire service and Boston daily, altered his path by accepting several executive positions at CBS and Fox Network, wrote several film scripts yet to be produced and served as a literary agent for television and film writers and directors, and as a sports agent for major league and professional baseball players. He is the author of THE INTERNET FINANCING SOLUTION, and while that book is an expose of Internet scams, it is also the experience of the author and his personal unfortunate experiences with the Internet global scams. With the success of that first outing with writing he followed with a well-sculpted mystery thriller THE SCOPAS FACTOR, and continued success with THESE THY GIFTS, and this revised edition of A WOMAN TO BLAME.

The impact of this novel rises from the exceptional art of the cover and proceeds with Vincent’s facility with language allowing him to say so much in so few poignant words. And example of this is his opening paragraphs – “What’s the mystery?” Mike Hegan asked as his boots shuffled a path through the newly fallen snow. They were not words he would use when called to the scene of the most recent homicide in Chicago. As the icy winds of January sliced into the city from Lake Michigan, Hegan cared less about this destination. He wanted the slog to end so his cheeks, all four of them, could thaw. “You’ll See. We’re almost there,” a warm, female voice answered with barely a trace of shiver. Hegan knew the voice belonged to Lucy. As they made their way up Michigan Avenue, she was barely visible. Her head was bent against the wind and snow sprinkles. Her body was swaddled in a floor-length, cranberry-colored down coat. “I heard a voice, but all I can see is cranberry Bubble Wrap”… And with this entry Vincent reminds us of his main character’s droll qualities – ‘Humor had saved Hegan from uncomfortable moments and situations since he was an adolescent. Now, he felt his comedic chops emerging to rescue him again.’

The concise summary offered before reading is adequate to place us in the realm of the gist of the tale. `Hours after a thoroughbred racehorse collapses and dies after finishing last in a race he was favored to win, his trainer—a young woman with a promising career—is found dead on a suburban Chicago beach. To the police, it's a simple case of murder-suicide. But Mike Hegan, veteran police detective who defies convention to make sure that justice is served, refuses to believe the official story. Instead of retiring like they want him to, he embarks upon a search for the truth, and finds himself on a Caribbean island where scores are settled—and lives are lost.’

This edition shows a polished Vincent Panettiere, further substantiating his remarkably solid stance as a writer of substance. His insights, sensitivity to issues - contemporary and enduring ones, and his eloquent prose place him near the top of today’s authors’ peak. Highly recommended. 

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.