by Michael J. McCann
Series: Donaghue and Stainer Crime Fiction #2
A beautiful woman is murdered in a small town in Virginia and Homicide Lieutenant Hank Donaghue is the prime suspect! Donaghue is on vacation when he stops overnight in Harmony, a quiet little town where very little happens. Until, that is, the police kick down the door of his motel room in the middle of the night and drag him off to jail on suspicion of having strangled a woman behind a bar. Although he insists he’s a cop himself and had nothing to do with it, the local chief of police won’t listen. An eyewitness claims he saw Donaghue go behind the bar where the murder took place – and the victim was Chief Askew's wife! Stuck in a cell in a small town, surrounded by cops who are convinced he’s a murderer, Donaghue must find a way to free himself and find Marcie Askew’s killer before it’s too late. When he’s finally allowed to make a phone call he dials the number of the one person he knows can help him out of this mess – Detective Karen Stainer.
Marcie’s Murder is the second book, in author Michael J. McCann’s, Donaghue and Stainer Crime Fiction novels and my first time reading his work. I found this to be an entertaining crime novel, with likable characters.
The tale begins when Donaghue is awakened in the middle of the night, beaten and handcuffed. Despite his cries of being a police officer, he is dragged down to the station. His vacation stop in Harmony quickly turns into a nightmare as he is accused of murdering the chief of police’s wife. When he gets his phone call, he calls his partner from the Maryland PD, the snarky Detective Karen Stainer. Stainer quickly gets Donaghue released and they end up assisting the local police department. Small town politics and secrets make this tale interesting as they work to solve the case.
Town folk are reluctant to share but Donaghue and Stainer begin putting the pieces together. McCann’s depiction of the small town and the characters residing there was colorful. The story is told in the third person, and we are provided information regarding the murder and suspects as they are revealed to the detectives. Clues helped me piece together the information before it was revealed, but I enjoyed the climactic capture of the murderer.
I liked both Detective Donaghue and Stainer. They are bright, intelligent and witty. They seem to work well together. Donaghue, for having been beaten and held in prison has a well-tempered personality. He is quiet and calm; she is loud and in your face. We learn more about Detective Stainer and her background. She is engaged but hasn’t completely opened up to her fiancé about family matters and her fears. She is haunted by an old case and confesses this to one of the townsfolk. We learn of her affection for guns. This woman knows her weapons. She is a tough cop and doesn’t take any crap. McCann creates a unique set of characters for the town of Harmony, each with their own history. This made the murder; the town and the story feel genuine. He completely captured the politics associated with living in a small town.
Fans of weapons will love the detailed description of weapons throughout the novel. We also get an in-depth look at Indian ancestry from a friend of the victim. This occurs when Donaghue interviews her. I felt both topics were not necessary to the plot, and slowed the pace. I did find the information interesting and it was well researched. This was a good story, but the overall plot wasn’t as intense, as I prefer in a crime novel. The pace was fast, in the beginning, fell flat in the middle, and moved at a maddening pace towards the end.
I recommend Marcie’s Murder to fans of crime novels and small towns. Fans of the Agatha Raisin series and Cozy Mysteries should find this delightful. Be sure and check out the first novel in this series titled, Blood Passage, currently available in paper and eBook formats. Marcie’s Murder will be published on April 6, 2012. I will be watching for more from this author.