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Book Review: The Fault Tree by Louise Ure

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When Louise Ure's first Arizona mystery, Forcing Amaryllis, debuted in June 2005, I was impressed with the compelling story and the stunning cover. It went on to win the Private Eye Writers of America's Shamus Award for Best First Novel.

The Fault Tree, the second book in Ure's Arizona trilogy, was just released, and it won't disappoint any of her fans. Hopefully, it will introduce a whole new audience to this talented author.

Cadence Moran is 31-years-old and an auto mechanic who works nights at Walt's Auto Shop in Tucson. Walking home from work one night, she hears a scream, laughter, and a car tear away. Cadence has just heard the end of a murder. Although Cadence is a witness, she's blind and can only depend on her other senses to tell the police what she "knows."

Cadence is reluctant to get involved. Eight years earlier she was the driver in the accident that blinded her and killed her niece. She's lived with her blindness and her blame ever since. One of the officers on the case is reluctant to believe her, but Detective Dupree has a feeling Cadence is reliable.

As the police blindly search for killers who seem to have no connection to the victim, the killers are searching for Cadence. She's suddenly a target, a witness to a crime that the killers don't realize she never actually saw.

Ure increases the tension, telling the story of Cadence's fear and her clues, the police investigation, and the killers' attempt to eliminate any witnesses. Cadence's clues lead the police in the wrong direction, while the killers make serious mistakes. The three storylines increase the suspense, driving the three groups together.

Louise Ure has written a powerful story of dysfunctional families, blame, and responsibility. It's a mystery that starts on a somber, but riveting note. "At the end, there was so much blame to spread around that we could all have taken a few shovelfuls home and rolled around in it like pigs in stink." The rest of The Fault Tree captures the reader, and doesn't let you go until the final sentence.

It's early in the year to predict another award winner, but I predict that Ure's The Fault Tree will once again vie for the mystery awards. Readers interested in a fascinating character, or one of the best mysteries you'll read in 2008, should pick this one up.

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