Death Checks In (Detective Heath Barrintgon Mysteries #3)

Title: Death Checks In
Author: David S. Pederson
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Genre(s): Historical, Murder/Mystery
Page Count: 221
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Read book blurb here

Detective Heath Barrington and Alan Keyes are in Chicago for a sightseeing weekend and encounter a crime while staying at the Edmundson Hotel. Store owner Victor Blount is killed and while the Chicago police believe this to be a random crime, Barrington is convinced it is premeditated murder and get involved in the case.

I enjoyed the first two books in the Detective Heath Barrington Mystery series - Death Comes Darkly and Death Goes Overboard - where in each story, the suspects are a ready-made group, i.e. family members brought together to an isolated country estate or people on a weekend cruise aboard a small steamer. In "Death Checks In," the author needs to first gather a random group of suspects (the hotel's assistant manager, a band singer and her partner, a female traveler staying at the hotel, etc.) and therefore the murder doesn't occur until 40% through the novel.

The pace feels very slow until the murder mystery kicks in and then the story moves along nicely as the mystery (and the resolution) really held my interest. Where the book doesn't work for me is in the area of character development of the main characters as well as the supporting characters. We learn little about Heath and Alan's relationship and their dialogue feels very stilted throughout. Any sex happens off-page; that is not to say I feel the story needs graphic sex, but there is little tangible chemistry between the two and at times they read more like work friends than romantic partners. Finally, since both Alan and Heath are Milwaukee law enforcement officers, it just feels like a real stretch that a Chicago detective would let them have as much input into a case that is out of their jurisdiction.

While I enjoyed the mystery here, the lack of depth in the characters and the awkward dialogue throughout didn't work for me. Also the pace of the story is elegiac until the mystery begins. 3 stars for "Death Checks In" but I am looking forward to the next Detective Heath Barrington mystery.

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