by Lisa Turner
William Morrow: An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
September 27, 2016
If you enjoy reading John Grisham’s books, I think you will enjoy Devil Sent the Rain. The lead character, Billy Able, is not a lawyer, but as a detective he tries to solve the murder of a lawyer. Caroline Lee, the victim, also happens to be an old flame of Billy’s. Even though this book is the second of a series, I really didn’t realize this until I read the back cover. A previous successful case solved by Billy was alluded to in the novel, but this book stands on its own. I did enjoy the setting of Memphis, and enjoyed reading about some quirky characters and a few that could be labeled as southern stereotypes.
The novel opens as Caroline is driving with an unknown person who draws a gun on her and forces her to stop the car and then shoots her in the face, all from Caroline’s viewpoint. Billy is called to the scene and quickly realizes who the victim is. He has no clue about who would want the lovely Caroline to die so brutally. Was it her ex-fiancé, furious at her for cancelling their wedding a couple of weeks earlier? Is it her cousin, Zelda, the not-so-favored one of all the cousins with whom she had a fight with recently? Is it her ne’er-do-well brother, Martin, favored child of her mother, Rosalyn? Those are just a few of the suspects.
Billy had recently convinced the department to assign him a new partner, a female detective named Frankie. New in the position after putting her time in on the streets of Key West, Frankie and Billy follow lead after lead but haven’t enough evidence to determine the killer. The circumstantial evidence points to Caroline’s Indian physician ex, but they need something more to really wrap up the case. Of course, being a foreigner and from a culture vastly different from that of the Ol’ South, Raj Sharma was the prime suspect.
I have not read a book specifically set in the old south since reading The Cutting Season by Attica Locke about an old plantation and a murder that occurred on the grounds. I forget how much I enjoy stories of family heritage and skeletons in the closets of rich southerners and their wide circle of friends, acquaintances, and workers. Caroline’s family, the Lees, were old southern stock and still owned a big house and land on the outskirts of Memphis. Her parents were both lawyers and her brother ran a bank. She was also a lawyer. Rosalyn was one of those not so loving mothers whose first priority was appearances. Caroline’s father, Saunders, was a beloved man with impeccable manners and southern gentility, slowing succumbing to Parkinson’s Disease. Caroline was very much a daddy’s girl and the two were close. Where her mother lacked in warmth and camaraderie, Caroline found a replacement in her paternal aunt, Gracie Ella.
I enjoyed this book enough to be curious about detective Billy Able and what kind of murder he solved in the earlier book. I also look forward to reading another story about Billy and Frankie and the dynamics of their partnership. A few too many southern stereotypes were probably used for me not to mention. For example, most of the names are just too common for the setting to keep me from a few eye rolls. Zelda would be a good example. Also, two of male characters were both hiding their homosexuality. One would be enough. Also, a crazy family member is usually present when a southern family is the subject. Regardless, do pick up the book if you want the story of the tribulations of a troubled family set in the south—a modern day tale with influences of the sad past.
From the publisher:
Edgar Award nominee and bestselling author Lisa Turner’s hard-boiled Detective Billy Able returns in this dark Southern mystery about the murder of a dazzling Memphis socialite—and the scandals revealed in the wake of her death.
The heart can be an assassin. Detective Billy Able knows that from experience.
Fresh from solving Memphis’ most sensational murder case, Homicide Detective Billy Able and his ambitious new partner Frankie Malone are called to a bizarre crime scene on the outskirts of town. A high society attorney has been murdered while dressed in a wedding gown. Billy is shocked to discover he has a very personal connection to the victim. When the attorney’s death exposes illegal practices at her family’s prestigious law firm, the scandal is enough to rock the southern city’s social world.
In a tale of the remnants of Old South aristocracy and entitlement, twisted by greed and vengeance, Billy must confront the secrets of his own past to have any chance at solving the murder of the girl he once knew. But as he seeks the truth, he’s drawn closer to an embittered killer bent on revenge—and eliminating the threat Billy poses.
–author Lisa Turner
Other tour stops for Devil Sent the Rain: A Mystery can be found HERE.
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