Mysteries by Gerrie Ferris Finger

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 THE DEVIL LAUGHED

Third in the Moriah Dru/Richard Lake Series

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The Story

 

Moriah Dru, owner of Child Trace, and her lover, Richard Lake, an Atlanta police lieutenant, have been invited to Lake Lanier in the mountains of North Georgia for the scorcher of a 4th of July holiday. There, Dru discovers the stern of a boat protruding from the waters in a cove. It’s the sailboat Scuppernong, missing nearly four years and uncovered by lake evaporation.

 

Two couples – Johnny and Candice Browne and Laurant and Janet Cocineau – were on the boat the day they and the sailboat disappeared – partying, drinking, getting thrown out of a marina restaurant. Johnny’s body was discovered in the water with his head bashed in. The other three have never been found; gone without a trace. There are theories. From Candice and Laurant skipping to Rio to they’re all in a trunk at the bottom of the lake. Once the sailboat has been examined and no bodies found in it, a cadaver dog is brought to the scene. The body she discovers is not one of the boaters, but a woman from Yarrow (fictitious) a small Georgia mountain town on the lake.

 

Candice’s daughter, Evangeline, wants to hire Dru to find her mother. Evangeline is a thirteen-year-old prodigy who Dru has dubbed Princess Pita – pain in the ass. Portia Devon the juvenile judge prevails upon Dru to take the case. Since she first discovered the sailboat and since Portia is her childhood friend, Dru agrees to work for a child to find an adult, instead of the reverse. The fee is enormous to discourage Evangeline and her uncle, but they’re very wealthy. Dru goes to work, aided by Lake and Webdog, her computer hacker.

 

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Reviews 

                                                                     
..."Since no bodies can be found aboard the craft, Dru and Richard head for the small Georgia mountain community where it was last seen. At a diner there, Dru meets a very young girl whose mother has also vanished. All too soon, the police find the mother's body in the lake. The Browne and Cocineau families who were partying on the sailboat when it disappeared had been at odds over a vineyard in Cape Fear, N.C. When Dru follows the trail there, her visit leads to another death and uncovers money laundering and other criminal doings. When all is said and done, however, it is the closemouthed, closely knit mountain community that holds the answers. Dru's third (The Last Temptation, 2012, etc.) provides plenty of quirky characters and surprising revelations." - KIRKUS REVIEWS

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 The debut of this series won the author the St. Martin’s Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel and this third in the series continues to prove that she was completely deserving of that honor. Dru’s voice wields an occasional black humor that makes this very complex mystery a pleasure to read and one can completely believe that she has the skills to disarm an attacker and still be able to make morbid jokes concerning a friend’s bullet wounds. The number of witnesses, victims, and suspects is at times mind-numbing and the author interweaves enough complications that the resulting solution is a surprise, if an uncompleted one.

Dru is a thoroughly admirable, has a dry wit, and proves herself as a very competent and capable investigator. Her love and need to protect children is entertainingly contrasted with her understandable dislike for Evangeline, and I love how the author treats their relationship. This is a novel with a strong vein of humor but at its heart proves to be a noir mystery that demands a reader’s full attention. Dru and her team are a winning combination in this twisty tale of jealousy, betrayal, and greed. -- Kings River Life