By Carolyne Topdjian
Whether you enjoy THE HITMAN’S DAUGHTER will depend on how much you enjoy haunted 100-year-old hotels, naïve young women protagonists and controlling families that behave like inbred Ozark hillbillies.
Mave Michael Francis is turning 25 on New Year’s Eve when she is asked to appear for a portrait sitting with resident artist Elizabeth “Birdie” Everhart.
Mave is not excited by the project, but she needs the promised $1,000. When she arrives at Birdie’s suite, she finds her bloodied and on the verge of death.
Soon, Mave is the prime suspect in Birdie’s death. She was there by the body. She had bloodied hands, and she’s the daughter of an incarcerated hitman, Cain Francis.
When Mave’s mother died, her father was left to teach her the things a girl needs to survive as an adult – how to fire a gun, how to fend off an attacker and how to avoid answering incriminating questions. He failed to teach her how to be skeptical of people who pretend to be helpful – and anything about her family. Secretiveness, it seems, is a trait shared by both the Everharts and the Francises.
When Birdie’s corpse disappears from her room, things get grisly. Mave stumbles through the maze-like hotel trying to solve the crime as the electricity comes and goes. A smoke-scented ghost leads (or misleads) her to the crimes of the past that lurk behind the crimes of the present.
This novel is atmospheric. It weaves together a ghost story, a murder mystery and supernatural events. Mave is plucky, although woefully inexperienced and too trusting.
Personally, I’m not fond of stories about sweet young things going bump in the dark. I like a little more assertiveness and moxy in my heroines, but this is entertaining.
Don’t look for depth of character here. You may also have to start lifting weights to suspend your disbelief enough to enjoy this book.
About the Author: Carolyne Topdjian
Novelist and essayist Carolyne Topdjian describes her work as a fusion of “mystery with horror, psychological suspense and surrealist fiction.
As a Lebanese-Canadian of Armenian descent, she says she is interested in “themes of belonging” and moments of “transition, contradiction and flux.”
She holds an interdisciplinary doctorate from York University and is a professor in the Faculty of Media and Creative Arts at Humber College in Toronto.
She lives in a 113-year-old-haunted house.