The Seduction of Miriam Cross by Wendy Tyson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Seduction Of Miriam Cross by W A Tyson begins with a tense scene in which it is obvious something very bad is about to happen. This sets the stage for what becomes a murder mystery that leads to unexpected places, none of which I expected when I began reading. The book deals with issues in today's society that are addressed somewhat, but not nearly enough is being done to stop the illegal and horrific practices of human trafficking.
The central character, Delilah Percy Powers, owns a detective agency. She has three women working with her: a former Nun, a homemaker, and a former stripper/bartender/masseuse. These women form a team that works very well together, but they could use one more person with a knowledge the rest of them are lacking: someone who knows how to get information from the Internet that isn't common knowledge for everyone. As resistant as Delilah is to bringing another person into the group (she doesn't like change), she knows her agency cannot do the work they need without someone on staff to handle the computer end of detecting. This leads to her hiring Matthew Anderson, a former journalist, who has exactly the qualifications Percy Powers needs.
When Lucinda Mills, Delilah's first pro bono case, calls upon Delilah to help her find out more details about the death of her aunt, Miriam Cross, Delilah is somewhat reluctant to take on the assignment. Miriam was murdered, but the police aren't doing very much to investigate the case, and a gag order has been placed on all information surrounding Miriam's mysterious death, so it hasn't received any news coverage. Lucinda stands to inherit from Miriam's estate, and she plans to use this money to pay Delilah for her work. Miriam Cross had been wealthy thanks to her successful career as an author mainly dealing with women's issues. Not all of her work was a commercial success, but Miriam had enough to fund her favorite women's charities as well as leaving enough for Lucinda to be free of financial worries. Delilah agrees to take on the case even though there doesn't seem to be much evidence to launch much of an investigation. However, Delilah's team is nothing if not creative and fearless when they set out to investigate a case. For this one they need all the creativity and fearlessness they can muster since nothing is as it appears to be, and everything seems shrouded in secrecy.
For me, this book was not a run-of-the-mill murder mystery. First, because Delilah is a complicated woman with a lifestyle atypical from most women her age. She's known great sadness in her past, and this haunts her in her present more than she'd like to admit. Her life seems very solitary, but that's the way she wants it because she believes this will bring her peace. She's very self-sufficient, and she surrounds herself with other women who fit that same category.
Second, the other women characters in the story are every bit as interesting and diverse as Delilah. Margo is a 72 year old Nun and former headmistress. Her age in no way hinders her from being a productive member of Delilah's team. Natasha has had her training at the School of Hard Knocks. She has an 8 year old son she wants to provide with a house complete with yard and puppy. She saves every cent she can get toward this end. Barb is the homemaker married to a cop who can sometimes be helpful in getting information for Barb's cases. Barb manages her job as well as her kids with calm and creativity. It takes a lot to ruffle her feathers. Together these four women would be interesting in any setting. As detectives they are all forces to be reckoned with.
Third, this mystery stood out for me because it is a multilayered story that has twists and turns often enough to hold my interest throughout the book. The subject matter was unfamiliar to me, and I always appreciate reading books that educate as well as entertain me. It seems to me that most women would be interested in the subject of human trafficking since most of the victims are other women. The details of this kind of activity are horrific, which is reason enough to make awareness of this crime a priority. Tyson has done an excellent job of exposing some of the ways in which this travesty takes place.
Just when I thought the mystery and Miriam Cross' murder was solved, there was one final twist I never expected. It was the perfect ending to a well plotted, well written mystery. I highly recommend this book to any mystery lover, or anyone who likes to read women's lit. This would make a perfect gift for someone with those reading inclinations.
I received an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.
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