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Book Review: Chalk Line: A Ben Gallagher Mystery by Paula LaRocque

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In Chalk Line, by Paula LaRocque, Chief of Detectives Ben Gallagher’s younger brother Andrew is being released from prison after having been locked up for ten years. The family has gone to great lengths to make sure Andrew will be able to readjust into a life of freedom. Their celebration, however, is cut short when a close family friend is found murdered in Ben’s house. As the investigation progresses Ben starts noticing that his mother is acting oddly. Is it in response to the loss of a dear friend or is it something more? He thinks she is definitely keeping a secret and Ben vows to find the truth, regardless of what skeletons he may uncover.

Chalk Line is author Paula LaRocque’s debut novel. For the most part, she has created a quality product. The plot is solid and interesting. The members of the Gallagher family are portrayed as down-to-earth people with flaws and personal problems which makes them more realistic to the reader. She found the right balance in the number of extraneous characters she included. There were enough to keep the reader unsure of the killer’s identity, but not so many that it was hard to remember how they fit into the story. She did a good job of keeping the truth hidden until the very end, and when it was revealed it was rather unexpected.

However, there were a few issues I had with the book. While I realize it is a work of fiction, I would like it to appear realistic. A few too many liberties were taken with the murder investigation. Ben would never have been allowed to lead a case that involves a friend and that took place in his own home. My second criticism involves the author’s style of writing. I do like some visual details provided, but she goes overboard. Her descriptions of every character’s clothing, color of nail polish, etc., in seemingly every scene they were in, became tedious.

Chalk Line by Paula LaRocque is a good book that will probably appeal more to a female audience. The plot is strong and moves at a good pace. This is the first book in a series. I am looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for the Gallagher family.

(Reviewed by Leslie Granier for Reader Views )

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