Piercing the Veil is a murder mystery with a flair for the occult by new author Jacqueline Fullerton, a former attorney. Ms. Fullerton should perhaps have stuck to her earlier career path.
Set in a small midwestern college town, the story centers on Anne Marshall, court reporter and law student, who gets caught up in a bitterly contested divorce cases she is covering. Anne is visited by the ghost of her lawyer father, dead two years now, who encourages her to take a closer interest; the husband may be hiding large amounts of money in an offshore account. As Anne begins her amateur sleuthing, she involves members of her law school study group — including a police detective, an accountant, and a computer consultant — and her assistant district attorney fiancé. When a key witness in the divorce case winds up on the wrong end of a meat tenderizer, Anne realizes that she may be in over her head, but she’s too obsessed, both with the case and with spending time with her dearly departed dad, to stop now.
I had a tough time finishing this book even though it's only a 208-page large-print paperback. The writing is amateurish with scarcely a compound sentence in the entire novel. The dialogue is stilted and trite and the characters, including the protagonist, are largely undeveloped. Since the ghost of her father plays an actual role in this novel, it would have been nice to delve a little more deeply into Anne’s feelings of loss, confusion, and love other than simply the trite expression of “the pain deep in her soul.”
Fullerton missed some good opportunities with this book. The central mystery itself was decent, with a nice twist in the murder, but Fullerton wraps it all up too quickly. And for a story with a ghost as a main character, Anne’s dad should have been around a little more; he could practically have been edited out of the book entirely and it scarcely would have affected the story.
Piercing the Veil is intended to be the first in a series of Anne Marshall mysteries. Hopefully later volumes will flesh out the characters a little better and smooth out the unsophisticated prose. Otherwise, John Grisham has nothing to fear from this latest lawyer-turned-novelist.