Murder at the Olympiad
by James Gilbert
Atmosphere Press

"Emotion could be catching, like some pathogen floating in the air, and she did not wish to come down with anger, to catch their contagion."

An exotic Mexican city, a tawdry murder in a gay bathhouse, and an inquisitive diplomat who can't seem to let well enough alone are the elements that make up the mystery in this novel as intent upon pursuing internal conflicts as it is external clues. Readers are likely to find both pursuits highly entertaining.

Amanda runs the American Consulate in Puerto Vallarta. Normally her days are filled with paperwork, visa irregularities, and various attempts to provide aid and comfort to citizens of America and Mexico who are forced to deal with the bureaucracies of both countries. When a young American is found dead in one of her city's shadier establishments, it falls to Amanda to contact his parents, relay the tragic news, and help them decide how to deal with the deceased's remains. Multiple people and events, however, conspire to complicate things exponentially. The divorced parents show up and spend more time fighting than grieving for their son. The investigating police officer becomes more concerned with quickly charging any suspect rather than looking for the actual murderer. Then there's Amanda's sense of truth and justice that won't allow her to simply do her job and walk away.

Author Gilbert is a writer skilled at exploring internal angst and postulating potential suspects and motives. He dissects his protagonist's mental and emotional states as skillfully as he depicts the peccadillos of persons of interest. Gilbert's narrative moves along at a comfortable pace, revealing more and more information as one chapter follows the next. As in most good mysteries, readers are left to determine just how much of the information being conveyed is of significance or mere subterfuge. And interestingly, is the ending really the end?

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