Wrapped in a life of luxury and protected by her wealthy family, Marilyn Boggs seems to have it all. She is a well-know and well-respected socialite, active in numerous charities. But Marilyn is also married to Gideon Brighthouse, a neurotic, panic-stricken former political aide, who wants nothing more than a divorce, or, to keep his isolated house and his beloved art, Marilyn’s death.

When Marilyn is found stabbed to death, Detective Luca discovers three possible suspects: Gideon; John Barnet, Marilyn’s lover; and Raul Sanchez, groundskeeper and former gang member. All three have motives but it will take dedicated detective work to find out who the murderer was.

Theme of the Book

Money, greed, and sex: the three prime motives for murder all appear in The Serenity Murder . The characters are stuck in a lifestyle that demands exorbitant amounts of money. It is this need for money, and not sex or love that causes the downfall of each character.

What I Liked About the Story

Marilyn Boggs, Gideon Brighthouse, and John Barnet are three of the most unlikeable characters to appear in crime fiction. Marilyn is spoiled, demanding, uncaring, and only worries about her income from the trust set up by her father. Gideon, who once had a successful career in politics, has become a shambling wreck, dependent on Valium to get through his day. All Gideon wants is to remain at the isolated Serenity House surrounded by his art collection, and he is willing to do most anything, including plotting the murder of his wife to avoid change. John Barnet is a con man who convinces older single women to “lend” him money for his failing business. If the loans are not forthcoming, John relies on the threat of secretly filmed sex tapes to convince his targets. The only character among the suspects to evoke any sympathy is Raul, who steals jewelry to finance his mother’s medical treatment.

With such a cast of characters in The Serenity Murder, the reader would expect a dark, depressing novel. The reader would be wrong. Detective Luca is a great character. A cancer survivor, his is often worried about his health, full of guilt from his past failures, concerned about a new relationship, and yet dedicated and open to the ideas of his partner. Mr. Petrosini has made Det. Luca’s life seem real to the reader. We follow Luca as he goes house-hunting; we worry with him about the lack of response from his new love interest; we sympathize as he tries to get along with the new sheriff, a true “country boy”.

There are enough twists and turns to keep any mystery fan involved and entertained. When the solution is finally revealed, most readers will mutter, “Of course!” as the end is very logical and believable.

It was so wonderful to read an independently published novel that was not full of errors in grammar and punctuation. Congratulations to Mr. Petrosini!

What I Didn’t Like About the Story

Not having read the previous Det. Luca novels, I was a bit lost with some of the references to past events. This is only a minor quibble however, as the confusion has led me to want to go back to the previous books.

Final Say

The Serenity Murder was a very good example of the more hard-boiled mystery. There are no bakeries or cafes, no recipes, no romance. It is a straight murder mystery solved by police procedure and forensic science. Readers looking for a cozy mystery should skip this one. Readers looking for a well-plotted, well-written police procedural mystery should love The Serenity Murder.

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