The Tempest, by James Lilliefors. Witness Impulse. 416 pages. Trade paperback $11.99.
This new addition to the Bowers and Hunter mystery series, properly promoted, is going to gain James Lilliefors a huge chunk more of the readers his work deserves.
Walter Kepler, in the big leagues of fine art dealers, has a plan. It involves a lot of money (millions) changing hands and a stolen Rembrandt changing hands as well. But the final stage of the transfer is a secret – a secret that will seem like a miracle when it is revealed. To accomplish his ends, he needs the help of contractor and land developer Nicholas Champlain; an assassin named Belasco; and Jacob Weber, Kepler’s lawyer and confidante.
Nick Champlain and his attractive, much younger wife Susan had rented a place in Tidewater County for the summer, leading a very private life. Mostly, Susan was around by herself, not quite fitting in, but attending the Methodist church where Luke Bowers was pastor. To Luke’s wife Charlotte, Susan seemed troubled. In confidence, Susan tells Luke that her marriage has become difficult. Nick is keeping tabs on her, and making threatening statements.
They’d had a dreadful argument over a photograph Susan had taken. She also reveals that he seems to be involved in a sensitive, clandestine project, something he can’t talk about – but the implication is that the photograph could put the project at risk. Luke wishes to be helpful, but before long Susan is found dead.
Luke’s good friend, State Police Homicide Detective Amy Hunter, is only marginally involved in the investigation until enough facts turn up to label it a homicide. Then it’s her case.
Or is it? Before long, the FBI is involved, but the FBI is concerned with building a case against Walter Kepler, who has been a suspect in international art theft crimes for many years. The FBI agent who pushes his way into Amy’s investigation heads a special art theft division. He seems to have an obsessive grudge against Kepler. The county sheriff also is a thorn in Amy’s side.
Still, she holds her own, aided by a supportive boss and some inside information from her ex-boyfriend, who happens to be an FBI agent. However, her major support comes through her two competent subordinates and – of course – Parson Luke. Luke is her necessary sounding board and moral yardstick.
As Kepler pursues his miracle and Amy pursues Susan Champlain’s killer, readers get a well-drawn overview of the Middle Atlantic region. Places, people, and events in and around Philadelphia become important to the investigation. Author Lilliefors handles the multiple settings and the transit from one to another with masterful skill. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the August 19, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the August 20 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte editions, click here: Florida Weekly – The Tempest