Kameron McBride reluctantly heads out to a far-flung part of Oregon to settle estate affairs for a distant relative. She learns he has been missing for quite some time and is now assumed dead. Hey, that sounds like a great title, doesn’t it? Something like, Missing, Assumed Dead, perhaps…
Without the benefit of a death certificate, much less a body, Kameron will soon suspect that her relative succumbed to foul play. Of what sort and for what reason? Well, that’s what the story is about. Suffice it to say that people in high places have staged a small town cover up that Kameron will have to unravel. The mystery elements in the story develop alongside a romance with Deputy Mitch Caldwell and an ongoing relationship with a deceased woman, who keeps appearing at opportune times to render warning of impending events. Holding mystery, romance and the supernatural in balance is no small undertaking, and the author must at a minimum receive commendation for telling a coherent story that carries that triad.
Marva Dasef keeps the pace peppy and moving. Information gathering, procedural style, with conversations, sometimes in the form of a couple of pages of flashback, is rendered well and succinctly. At times, especially at the end I would have preferred a more action-based approach, but it never bores, and so I must set my preference aside.
Just as crucial, Dasef’s characterization feels solid. Even minor characters come across as more than veneer caricatures, a flaw all too common in these types of stories. They speak to us with realistic regional dialects that are never overwhelming and often charming. Above all, they behave in ways that also strike us as real and never shoe-horned. On that basis alone, this story rises above average.
Dasef also incorporates a significant romance element. Before I say more, I must first stipulate to being neither an expert nor a fan of that particular genre. Having said that, the romance felt rushed and at times abrupt. At times I asked myself if such a quick connection between strangers—especially in light of the danger and crisis around them—would be realistic, or if more of a buildup would have yielded a more satisfying relationship development. On that front I must raise my hands and say, “well, different people might behave differently,” and move on. And so I did.
In the end, well, the ending didn’t satisfy this reader enough. It struck me as too straightforward, almost too convenient, with little of the surprise, twist element we’ve come to expect in this genre. Perhaps “the case” itself lacked sufficient complexity to bring about a more satisfying conclusion. If I had to put my finger on it, I would indeed press it there. Were it not for the above-mentioned characterization, this would have disappointed more than it did. Yet, in the sum total of the story, I didn’t go away saying “Wow!” but I did appreciate the skill with which the author kept me going where many others would have failed to manage the feat.
Overall, I recommend this as a worthy read. No doubt those more in tune with the crime-romance genre will enjoy it even more than I did.
About The Reviewer
It took Eduardo Suastegui a while to discover he was an artist trapped in an engineer’s body. With formal education in math and science, affirmed through hands-on engineering experience in designing, building, and integrating gadgets of varying complexity, he always kept daydreaming. Throughout his life, that daydreaming fed technological innovation.
More recently, that daydreaming has engendered stories about hackers, rogue AIs, and space travel, with more than a few stories about a dog trainer and her K9s sprinkled in. Eduardo loves to dive into fast-flowing, character-driven stories. With each of the books he reads or writes, he hopes to continue that adventure.
More than anything, through his writing, he hopes to connect with readers. He seeks to share a piece of himself with those who pick up and delve into his work.
Learn more about Eduardo and his work at http://eduardosuastegui.com/