4 stars out of 5
Don't expect mind-blowing or whack-on-the-head surprises in this enjoyable book; rather, it's an engaging chase to catch a dastardly culprit, who's identified from the get-go, before victims start piling up. For much of the time, I got the feeling I was reading the script for an episode of the popular CBS TV show Criminal Minds simply because the format is similar (that's not a bad thing, BTW).
The story begins as Joe Nicoletti, a noted and retired federal agent from Washington, D.C., is hoping for a teaching job at the University of Montana. At this point, he's looking for a peaceful place to settle down and, more importantly, escape almost overwhelming memories of his late wife. Soon after his arrival in Montana, he meets the glamorous and intriguing Marie-Justine, a Ph.D. professor of genetic sciences at the university - a woman who bears a strong resemblance to his wife. She's just finalized a divorce from her husband, Dr. Richard Cantrell, and after a single meeting, she and Nicoletti become infatuated with each other. Along the way, readers also get a glimpse of Charles Durbin, who runs a pet grooming business in town but who also has a distinctly kinky side, to put it mildly.
Early on, happiness turns to tragedy when a couple of dead bodies are found; and while Nicoletti desperately wants to be part of the investigation, the local police seem more interested in boosting their political careers than solving murders and, in particular, getting help from an "outside" expert - especially one who they consider to be a person of interest himself.
The story moves along quickly and interestingly (although to be fair, sometimes a little more toward the ho-hum end of the spectrum than I would have liked, especially with regard to Nicoletti's reactions to various situations). Still, the whole thing was quite enjoyable, and Nicoletti is interesting enough that I'd love to see him continue in a series (hint, hint). Many thanks to the author and publisher, via NetGalley, for providing me with a copy in exchange for a review.
Murder in Missoula by Laurence Giliotti (Chateau Noir Publishing, September 2015); 306 pp.