cover image Death Grip

Death Grip

Elaine Viets. Severn, $28.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7278-9018-4

Early in Agatha finalist Viets’s unexciting fifth mystery featuring death investigator Angela Richman (after 2019’s A Star Is Dead), the body of missing high school track star Terri Gibbons turns up in an isolated wooded area of Chouteau Forest, Mo. Angela and her colleagues, Det. Jace Budewitz and assistant medical examiner Katie Kelly Stern, must contend with a formidable suspect in Terri’s strangulation murder. Briggs Bellerive, the “most eligible bachelor” of upscale Chouteau Forest, can use his money and influence to sway investigators and townsfolk alike, despite the evidence against him, including a handwritten message inside the victim’s shoe indicating he’s the killer. Angela, Jace, and Katie wind up having to pursue Bellerive in secret for fear of their jobs and reputations. Meanwhile, Angela must deal with her feelings toward Officer Christopher Ferretti two years after her husband’s death, along with her day-to-day case load. Since the murderer’s identity and methods are clear from the beginning, there’s not much suspense along the way to the predictable ending. Viets has done better. [em]Agent: Joshua Bilmes, JABberwocky Literary. (Mar.) [/em]