“The Smuggler’s Daughter” by  Claire Matturro

There are two kinds of detective novels. The first is a detective novel that gives us a bit of the soap opera of the detective’s life to add flavour to the story. The second is a soap opera that uses the detective story for the same purpose. This book is a strange combination of the two.

It starts out heavily leaning in the soap opera direction, with very little detective work going on. Unfortunately, one of the characters makes an emotional decision that would be just fine for soap opera, but would never fly in a detective novel. This detracts from our respect for the character and lowers the suspense in the rest of the novel.  Then there is a tense, action-filled middle section, a flashback involving criminal activities by a whole new cast of characters, and no policemen at all. The last section draws it all together like a traditional detective story, with suspense and action mounting to a tense climax.

The saving grace of the book is that the main characters are likeable and empathetic, and we really care that their lives will work out. I rather liked the ending. It’s difficult to expect “happily ever after” when people’s lives are that complicated.

A good book for those who want a lot of human interest in their detective stories and are willing to delay gratification of their need for action until later in the book.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


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