by Mikel J. Wilson
This novel opens with one of the most spectacular murders I’ve ever read.
A young, Olympic-bound skater, Britt Algarotti, skates on to the ice alone as the sun rises. She spirals, makes a jump and then does a double axel. Seeing a branch sticking out of the frozen lake, she twists her skates to avoid it. The blades scrape together and spark. As Britt begins another spin, she is engulfed in flames and smoke. The ice melts under her and she plunges into freezing water.
For Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Emory Rome, this case is a challenge for more reasons than finding Britt’s killer. It sends him back home to the tiny mountain town of Barter Ridge where he grew up. Deep in the woods, isolated churches still observe serpent-handling rituals, and secrets about his own family remain in the shadows. His foster father, Nick Rome, is the local sheriff who treats suspects with more neighborly courtesy than suspicion of criminal intent.
But one of the biggest challenges Emory faces is the private investigator, Jeff Woodard, that Britt’s wealthy father has hired. Where Emory and his partner Wayne Buckwald must follow procedures and standards that will hold up in a court of law, Jeff gets paid for identifying the killer by any means necessary.
Jeff’s agency, Mourning Dove Investigations, is located in Knoxville’s trendy Bowery area. In contrast to Emory’s serious, straight-arrow approach to life, Jeff is an urbane maverick. The chemistry between the two simmers throughout the book.
Author Mikel Wilson takes the reader through twists and turns in the surprising resolution of this mystery. Even better, he’s created interesting main characters in Emory and Jeff that a reader cares about. As the murder on the lake of fire is solved, readers are still left with unanswered questions about the pasts of both Emory and Jeff — and what will happen in their budding relationship — all good signs for a series that a reader wants to stay involved with.
About the Author: Mikel J. Wilson
Murder on the Lake of Fire is the first book of author Mikel J. Wilson’s first series, The Mourning Dove Mysteries. Previously, he received critical praise for his first novel, Sedona: The Lost Vortex, a science fiction book bakes on the legends of energy votexes that surround Sedona.
Raised in Tennessee, Wilson has had a variety of jobs that support and inform his writing, including being a bartender at one of L.A.’s largest nightclubs, working as pharmacy tech and in marketing and communications for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Currently he lives and works in San Diego.
Disclosure: Mikel Wilson and I were colleagues at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He did not solicit me for this review nor provide compensation or consideration for it. The opinions reflected here are my own, based on my reading of a copy of the book I purchased.