By Nalini Singh
This mystery gets off to a promising start, but unfortunately, it just can’t keep the momentum going.
The sexy, provocative, stunningly beautiful Nina Rai has been missing for 10 years when her rusting Jaguar is spotted under a tangle of bush plants in Waitākere Ranges Regional Park outside of Auckland, New Zealand.
The police arrive at the Rai home carrying her magnificent diamond rings, which Aarav and his father Ishaan identify. The car’s license plates match hers; the ID cards in the purse match hers; and the clothing matches the description given when she first went missing.
The thing is she is found sitting in the passenger side seat — and the $250,000 she allegedly stole from her husband’s safe is missing. The police are considering it a homicide. Aarav vows to find and punish whoever killed his mother, even as the police do their own investigating.
Aarav is temporarily living at home as he recovers from a car accident that left him with a brain injury and a broken foot. He starts his investigation in his own neighborhood, an area so exclusive that it is called The Cul-de-sac, as if it were the only one in existence.
The more Aarav investigates, the more suspects there are: the next door neighbor Nina had an affair with while his wife was being treated for cancer; the man’s gay son whom she was blackmailing; the Thai girl whom she hired as a maid and then fired when she suspected the girl was sleeping with both her husband and her son.
Nina’s life seemed to revolve around alcohol, sex and shopping. The more Aarav remembers, the more Nina’s death seems to be a case of good riddance.
With every turning page, Aarav becomes a more unreliable narrator. He grew up to write a best-selling mystery book that was turned into a blockbuster movie. While it has made him rich and famous, it doesn’t seem to have made him a happy man. His head injury has left him with intermittent migraines, memory problems, sleepwalking and bottles of pills that he takes erratically.
His list of suspects grows ever longer until he’s even starting to believe that he killed his mother.
This isn’t a book I would recommend, even for a beach or pool book. Author Nalini Singh is heavy handed and repetitive as she drops clues. As the number of suspects mounts, the suspense drops. The characters tend to be two-dimensional, and motivations for murder are petty rather than passionate.
About the Author: Nalini Singh (1977 – )
Born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand, Nalini Singh has worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a factory worker, a bank temp and an English teacher — all of which, she says, is grist for her writer’s mill.
A lifelong writer, her first book, DESERT WARRIOR, was a romance published by Silhouette Desire. She has also written paranormal novels, short stories and thrillers such as QUIET IN HER BONES.
A lover of travel, she spent three years living and working in Japan and traveling around Asia.