I have a theory about novels, particularly ones in the suspense and thriller genre. An author needs to ‘hook’ a reader in the first 20 or so pages. If the hook is not set the reader will lose interest and move on. The ‘hook’ is an art form, there is little doubt in my mind that author Curt Baldwin could teach this in a university course.

There is not just one hook, but several. At first they seemed disconnected and my interest level soared wondering how the author was going to stitch this patchwork quilt together. The answer is that C. Edward Baldwin does it with panache! Fathers House is well constructed and devilishly delicious reading.

The backdrop for Fathers House is the fictitious South Carolina city of Duraliegh. On the surface it seems to be an idyllic location to live, a buoyant economy, low crime rates, and no drugs or gangs. But as the saying goes, if it looks too good to be true, it likely is.

Assistant District Attorney Ben Lovison finds himself working on a most unfortunate case. A young man, Calvin Leeson has been brutally beaten to death and all roads lead to another local teenager, a would be rapper, Cain Simmons.

The job of being an Assistant D.A. is far from glamorous, too many cases, and too little time to work them. The solution usually is to offer a ‘plea bargain’ and close the deal quickly. This time Ben Lovison finds himself in a quandary, the deal suggested by the D.A. hardly meets the severity of the crime. Even stranger, is the refusal of the offer by the young rapper.

So starts a journey of discovery for Ben that will forever change him. The senseless death of a teenager triggers a series of events that effects Ben himself, and the entire city of Duraliegh. It does not take Ben long to see a pattern emerge, while he cannot put his finger on it, there seems to be a wish by certain city officials to bury the case. At the very heart seems to be a harmless residential school Fathers House. Presided over by Mayo Fathers it is the very pinnacle of respect within the community. Ben himself had been a pupil. Were it not for the largesse of Mayo Fathers he would not have made it to college, law school, and finally to reaching the post of Assistant D.A.

To share more of the plot would be a huge disservice to both the author and the reader. The day I give a spoiler is the day I stop being a reviewer. However I am happy to talk in general terms. In the first 20 or so pages Fathers House may come across as being a little disjointed. But as the story unfolds the threads weave together to create a most unique cloth.

Even the meaning behind the title Fathers House takes a little time to digest.

Unlike some mysteries that keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page, C. Edward Baldwin doles out the solution in small easy to understand pieces. Each one comes as a huge surprise.

If you have someone on your Christmas list that loves a good mystery story Fathers House is sure to please.

You can order your copy from the Amazon link at the top of the article.

Simon Barrett

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