cover image The Mad, Mad Murders of Marigold Way

The Mad, Mad Murders of Marigold Way

Raymond Benson. Beaufort, $24.95 (350p) ISBN 978-0-8253-0991-5

This stellar mystery set in May 2020 from Benson (Blues in the Dark) focuses on TV writer turned novelist Scott Hatcher and Rachel Bergman, Scott’s dutiful housewife neighbor, who live in Lincoln Grove, a quiet Chicago suburb. When their respective spouses turn out to have gone missing on the same day, Lt. Pat Dante, of the Lincoln Grove PD, investigates. The stakes rise with the discovery of the remains of the missing spouses in a house destroyed by arson. Curiously, large amounts of personal protective equipment, apparently stolen, were burned in the fire. Scott and Rachel fall under suspicion, and they grow closer as Dante tries to untangle a spiraling web of crime. Though all the characters are painted with convincing brushstrokes, it’s the narrator, not identified until the end, who steals the show. “I’m the storyteller here, and I can tell the tale any way I choose!” he declares, and he freely editorializes and speculates about others, himself, and the troubled times following the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This wild roller coaster of a novel is an attention-grabber from first page to last. Agent: Cynthia Manson, Cynthia Manson Literary. (Oct.)