Dead in the Water
by Annelise Ryan
Dead in the Water is the eighth mystery in the Mattie Winston Mystery Series. As I read, I suspected it was not a standalone, but I was unaware of the number of books preceding it. The author fills the reader in on the background of characters from previous books very effectively and efficiently.
Some readers refer to Dead in the Water as a cozy mystery. It deviates from the typical cozy mystery in its focus on forensic investigation of crimes, as is found in two popular television shows: the more current C.S.I. and the older series Quincy, M.E. Initially as I read the descriptive portions, I could hear echoes of my teenage self: “Eew! GROSS!” and I determined that I could not possibly rate it with 5/5 stars. As I read on, however, I became absorbed by the complex mystery, interesting characters, and complicated relationships. I even came to admire the way the author handles the depictions of dead bodies and autopsies–just graphic enough for visualization without unnecessary repetition or exploration of details.
Another different feature of this cozy mystery is that the main character, Mattie, is an employee of the medical examiner’s office. Her job description is “medico-legal death investigator.” That position gives her access to medical and investigative information that would normally be denied to the general public. It also gives her a reason to be involved in the discovery of so many crimes, as opposed to the typical, hapless female lead who unbelievably, repeatedly stumbles into crime scenes. Her job makes her able to work WITH the book’s love interest, Detective Steve Hurley, rather than have to work around him. In this book, the tension about flow of information, normally assigned to the heroine and the investigative romantic interest, is taken on by a reporter who has developed a rapport with the crime fighting duo.
By the end of Dead in the Water, I was sold on the merits of this book despite queasiness at its post-mortem perspective. The author even manages to introduce a touch of humor in the midst of death. Ryan is inclusive of a variety of non-traditional families in a way that feels like an attempt at being politically correct. Although the writing is good, with so many interesting mysteries waiting to be read, I will probably not read more books in this series. I do recommend it for those devotees of forensic science mysteries.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Notes: forensic science emphasis
Publication: February 28, 2017–Kensington Press
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