Quick and the Dead, by Susan Moody

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Susan Moody, and Severn House Publishers for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with this review.

Moody opens a new mystery path with a highly energetic Alex Quick. A former member of the police, soured by a cheating husband and crippling miscarriage, Quick turns her interests elsewhere and finds herself in the world of writing. After a few minor pieces receive modest publication, she turns to the world of art, another of her passions. Eventually collaborating with Dr. Helena Drummond, they prepare to pitch an idea to a small publisher in rural England. When Drummond does not turn up, Quick is left to wonder what could have happened. Thinking back to the various off-hand comments Drummond made about a stalker, Quick is left to wonder if there is some truth to it. Upon arrival at Drummond’s home, Quick discovers a body, brutally massacred, with a striking resemblance to her friend. Using former police contacts, Quick is able to learn that the victim is not Drummond, but one Amy Morrison. Quick begins piecing together a backstory on Morrison while she continues to look for Drummond, who has seemingly gone on the lam. The more Quick is able to learn, the greater the chances that Dr. Helena Drummond might be a suspect in the Morrison murder. A manhunt begins, as Quick can do nothing but wait. Further investigation into the life and times of Amy Morrison turns up a sordid past and many people who have motive to kill her. When another body turns up, Quick must come to terms with what might have happened to Drummond while remaining fixated on solving the Morrison murder. An intriguing way to introduce a new character in what is sure to be an interesting series, should Moody continue on with it from hereon in.

This is my first experience reading Moody and if this is a testament to her abilities, it will not be my last. While keeping the story simple, Moody is able to move it forward in an effective manner. She pulls the reader in with some backstory on Alex, but also leaves much unsaid. Alex’s past does not flood the narrative, though there is also not a ‘crime fighting heroine’ that pervades the pages either. It is a wonderful mix of mystery, art history, and personal journey as one woman seeks to find the killer of a friend. Utilising a number of characters from many walks of life, the suspect list, though never formally large, is on offer and the reader can speculate alongside a sleuthing Alex Quick. When everything comes together in the end, it is no whodunit shocker, though there are some surprises along the way and the rationale is intriguing to the attentive reader. Moody effectively treats her readers to a great novel and potential series, with a raw writing style and an intriguing presentation style.

Kudos, Madam Moody for this introductory novel into the life of Alex Quick. I do not it is not your last, for I am eager to see what else you have in store for her.