Sunday, November 30, 2014

Fourth Horseman

By Margot Dalton

Police dectective Jackie Kaminsky is expecting her first child and has decided she wants to live in her own house.  She finds a nice house in a well-established neighborhood and moves in. The father of her soon-to-be-born baby, rancher Paul Arnussen, is quite willing and happy to marry Jackie, but she is leery of commitment due to her own unhappy and troubled childhood.
Jackie and Paul are digging in the yard one day, preparing the ground for a flowerbed, when Paul unearths human remains, which later turn out to be that of a young woman and a baby. Jackie also finds a diary hidden in her house that belonged to the murdered woman. So even though Jackie now has a newborn baby to take care of and is on maternity leave from her police job, she starts an informal investigation to attempt to understand how a young woman and a baby ended buried in her own backyard.
You would think taking care of herself, her new baby, and her new house would be enough for a young, inexperienced mother, but not Jackie. And despite death threats that include the severed finger of the long dead baby, Jackie refuses to stop her investigation or relocate to the safer environs of Paul's ranch.  Her investigation turns up a lot of strange behavior among her many elderly neighbors and the conclusion of the mystery was very unexpected, involving the least likely of suspects and the most sordid and sorry of circumstances.
I enjoyed this story very much. I was surprised by the conclusion and didn't have a clue beforehand as to who the murder was. However, I did find the main character's willful stubbornness and lack of common sense as regards her own and her baby's safety unlikely and unreasonable. So, of course, she ends up in a confrontation with the killer that nearly costs the both of them their lives. Also, I thought finding the dead woman's diary was a bit too pat. Made the investigation too easy. But, overall, it was a good read, engrossing and surprising.

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