Yuletide fable brings stormy weather and murder to an uplifting finale

On a Midnight Clear,by Henry Hoffman. Melange Books. 164 pages. Trade paperback $10.95.

This third title in Mr. Hoffman’s Adam Fraley Mystery series takes the private eye away from his home base in the Tampa area on a vacation trip to a small town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The heavy Colorado snowstorm on Christmas Eve disorients Adam as he searches for Reggie, the friend he has set out to visit – an army buddy with whom he has kept in touch over the years. midnightclear

Lost and getting desperate, he pulls up to a remote cabin and finds a tentative welcome from charming seven-year-old Noelle, who is patiently waiting the return of her mother, Rita Feldman, who had just gone off for a walk. Rita’s absence sparks the first question of many: Where is she? Why would she have left her daughter alone in this threatening weather on Christmas?

Once the local authorities are summoned and begin looking into the case, Adam – a stranger who shouldn’t be in this situation – becomes a possible suspect. Rita is found, hanging by her neck in the woodshed, with the next question being whether she was murdered or committed suicide. A background check on Adam pretty much wipes away the suspicions, especially as he joins forces with the local investigators, Vernon Jolly and Carlita Perez.

Hoffman

Hoffman

His own curiosity aroused, Adam gets his host Reggie to do some computer searches in order to find out about the Feldman family. Of particular interest is Arlen Feldman’s muddied reputation as a financial advisor. Seems he had swindled investors out of a million dollars, and yet no one can find the assets that could be assigned to settling the civil suit against him. His divorce from Rita followed, and soon after that his marriage to his present wife, Daniela.

Did the first Mrs. Feldman know something that led Arlen to murder her? He’s a much more plausible suspect than Adam – but where is he?

What did he do with the money he swindled?

A great strength of the book is the brainstorming done by the principal investigators as they pursue the answers. Readers overhear compelling, authoritative conversations about how to advance the case. They exchange ideas readily, in a forthright manner, and with persuasive shows of intelligence and experience. . . .

To read the full review, as it appears in the December 21, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the December 22 Naples and Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte editions, click here: Florida Weekly – On a Midnight Clear

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