by Kate Flora



Portland, Maine Homicide investigator Joe Burgess just wants to spend time with his girlfriend and two kids they are thinking of fostering. However, his job keeps getting in the way. A weekend with the kids is interrupted by the murder of Burgess’ long time friend and war buddy Reggie Libby. Libby, never quite the same after the war turned to alcohol and the street. So who would kill him. Suspects abound. His son, a shyster realtor, his ex wife. Burgess struggles to find evidence in the case are another obstacle. A superior is urging him to cut out the extra manpower for what looks like an accidental drowning of a wino. Nobody seems to know Reggie’s mysterious new employment. Burgess friends on the street are too addled-minded to be of but scant assistance. Reggie’s son, Joey is nowhere to be found and the ex wife is a witch. The situation grows more tense as the days pass and the clues start to add up.

This is a good solid story and a nice police procedural. It presents the pressures a cop experiences both professionally and personally. Flora does a nice job of presenting the evidence and unfolding the story.


Joe Burgess: Detective Sergeant for the Portland, Maine PD, has a girlfriend and two foster kids, trying to ease the strain on his relationship, drives a truck, Vietnam vet, a little overweight and doesn’t exercise or eat a healthful diet, father died an alcoholic, has a scar

Stan Perry: Joe’s colleague, bald, drives a Taurus, womanizer

Benjy: pale roomy eye, chapped and wrinkled face, white beard stubble, gravelly voice, limps, street person

Maura O’Brien: Takes medication to be mentally stable but hates the medicine, has a daughter who pays the rent, likes sweets, usually wears bright clothes, graying auburn hair, usually stringy and a mess, overweight

Claire Fontaine Libby: pale skin, long dark hair, only child, widow, has a son, controlling, selfish

Some good supporting characters, especially in Reggie’s girlfriend and other street people.


Fairly distinctive voices. Every conversation is important to the main story or to the subplots. No long explanations or lectures, just a policeman doing his job and talking to those who can help.


Some profanity. A few punctuation and missing or incorrect words problems. I did tire of the Joe’s constantly telling me about how awful his professional life was. A few times are okay, but throughout wasn’t necessary. I just wanted the mystery story. I enjoyed the subplot with Burgess’ colleague’s woman problems. There was another minor subplot brought in late in the story that distracted me. I thought it would have worked better had it been introduced earlier as just another obstacle for Burgess to overcome. I thought about giving it a blue, but with the editing mistakes and too much ‘telling’, I have to go with:

Purple Belt



Posted on September 23, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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