Missing person, stolen art darken Florida’s sunshine

“The Birds of Winter,” by Kinley Roby. Five Star. 378 pages. $25.95.

It’s such a pleasure to settle in with a complex mystery tale by an author whose arresting characters are fully developed, whose pacing of action is superb, and whose settings are not only well chosen, but also colored and shaded with a painter’s eye. This latest entry in the Harry Brock Mystery series has all those features. Moreover, for denizens and fans of Southwest Florida, it doesn’t hurt that the setting is a mildly disguised version of Naples, along with its eastern transition into Everglades territory.  BirdsOfWinterFront

A local big-shot lawyer has put Harry in touch with a wealthy, cantankerous fellow named Gregory Breckenridge who has a big problem: his wife has vanished. He needs to find her, but he hasn’t gone to the sheriff’s office because he’s afraid that any scandal will undermine his hedge fund empire. Harry asks ordinary, sensible questions about the circumstances preceding Afton’s disappearance and about their relationship, but the contemptible bully is reluctant to answer them. Harry takes the case, and he soon engages experienced skip-tracer Caedmon Rivers to hunt Afton Breckenridge down.

Caedmon is a gorgeous woman. Harry falls in love with her, and the heat is mutual – if not the deep adoration. It’s a problem.

Another criminal matter gets tangled up with the question of Afton’s disappearance. There is strong suspicion that socialites Peter and Gwen Oglevie have been smuggling and selling stolen paintings. An employee who chanced to see something potentially incriminating is found dead soon after. The woman pastor to whom this worker had turned for advice now turns to Harry. The tangle? Gwen and Afton have been good friends. Is the art smuggling connected to Afton’s disappearance? How?

It soon becomes evident that searching for Afton Breckenridge is not healthy. Caedmon is almost killed by two professional assassins. Her physical recuperation goes well, but as the victim of such a terrible attack, which included violent rape, she is a psychological eggshell. She is simply not the same person she was before the attack, and Harry – though he tries in every way to be supportive – is simply not equipped to deal with her psychic pain.

Kinley Roby by Nick Shirghio

Kinley Roby by Nick Shirghio

Are they after her because she is close to finding Afton? Are these same people after Afton? Are the Oglevies behind it all? Is Afton even alive? If she is dead, who is manipulating her bank accounts? These questions are what Harry, now working in concert with local law enforcement and the district attorney’s office, must find out. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the January 30, 2013 issue of the Fort Myers Florida Weekly, and the Naples and Bonita Springs editions for January 31 click here: Florida Weekly – K.Roby

See also: Kinley Roby pdf

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