Thursday, August 18, 2011

Murder at Random by Claire McNab

Publisher:              Bella Books

Claire McNab has been writing mysteries for many years and has built her reputation on three different series featuring Carol Ashton, Kylie Kendall and Denise Cleever. Murder at Random is the latest in the Denise Cleever series. 

Murder at Random is very topical and starts out with an interesting story. A radical group called Righteous Scourge has advertised on its web site that it will pay people to commit acts of terrorism throughout Australia. The worse the act is, the more money the terrorist will be paid. When the attacks begin and an investigative reporter who was going to turn over information to the government is killed in a mysterious accident, Agent Denise Cleever is sent undercover to infiltrate a newspaper that seems to be getting inside information on the events before the government agencies are. While investigating the newspaper, Denise discovers that there are ties between the terrorists, the newspaper and a religious cult called Supremity. The three appear to be working together to bring down the government and insure that politicians under Supremity's control rise to power. Denise encounters distractions that could threaten her ability to do the job - a past lover who is still under suspicion for committing treason, a possibility of a new love interest and an estranged brother who suddenly reappears in her life. When she learns that the leader of Supremity wants to "gather" her into the group, she can't be sure if it means that she has finally won the trust of the inner circle or if her cover has been blown and she's being set up for an "accident" of her own.

McNab's books have always followed a format that is familiar once you read one or two of them. It usually results in a pleasant, easy to read and enjoy, mystery. This time, however, the story never seems to come together and races toward a conclusion before the reader can be sure what exactly is going on. Agent Cleever seems to be crawling along, discovering bits and pieces, but not able to connect them, when suddenly, with no warning, there is a dramatic event and the book is over.

McNab has three distinct stories she's trying to tell: 1) terrorism, 2) a new love interest, and 3) Cleever's relationship with her brother. It almost seems as if she was trying to cover all three stories, suddenly realized she was reaching the number of pages she was aiming for and slammed the door shut on the story. While McNab is worth reading, Murder At Random is not her best work.

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