A Dead Eye
by Katherine Coss

"Kate thought to herself that murder was a new detour for them, even at their most depraved."

A body with a dead eye opens Coss’s multipart, high-speed murder mystery surrounding the fatal circumstances of a singular night. Amid “the heat of South Florida,” a host of less-than-innocent characters converge in this twisty tale.

After a night of raucous clubbing, Kate discovers blood and a broken headlight on a borrowed Mercedes, intuition telling her something is “very rotten in Denmark.” Desperately cleaning up evidence, Kate retraces the night’s events, suspicion turning to the murderous intentions of a bartender named Seth, with the body in the canal being his lover, Jake. Kate’s investigation is the driving force in the first half of Coss’s sultry story. After Kate’s reluctant confession to “partner in love and crime” Marie and “hardscrabble self-made” Aunt Betty with “underworld connections,” Coss shifts to other players, examining alternate views of the crime and propelling the reader toward the pursuit of justice.

Broken into six parts, Coss’s slim novel is something like a Law & Order episode. Part one, the strongest of the six, centers on Kate in her shroud of self-doubt, worries, and struggles to stay sober. Through her deductions and revelations, Coss’s plot remains engaging as Kate races against the machinations of the legal system falling into place. But when the focus changes, the tight narrative control is lost a bit, leaving the reader wanting more of Kate and her efforts to right a terrible wrong. More development with Marie might have made a compelling juxtaposition to Kate’s neurotic sleuthing, and while Seth is one-dimensional, Aunt Betty stands out as an intriguing, colorful character all her own. Coss’s entertaining thriller is complete with gallows humor and a breezy pace perfectly set in the sticky, southern Florida landscape. The hint by novel’s end of future stories featuring Kate leaves the reader ready for more.

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