Ring Of Conscience
By James Stoddah
When Jason Chadwick, one of the developers of he World Wide Web dies, his assistant doesn’t think it is suicide. When she’s almost killed by an assailant, she connects the attack to Jason and wants the police to re-investigate his death. While she tries to discover who Jason was through his journals, police investigators Thomas Riley and Lucy Bridges tackle the problem from another angle. Along with his lawyer, Chadwick had set up an online treasure hunt and anybody who could figure out the clues might receive his wealth. Of course, with treasure hunts, there is always someone who doesn’t want to play by the rules.
A fun little mystery where the reader can play along. The website listed is real. Follow the clues and see if you can outwit the police and Amy. I’m always up for a puzzle story.
Amy Pearce: works in Internet communications,
Arnold Pearce: 6’7”, 230 pounds, athletic, lawyer
Thomas Riley: Detective Inspector, Lucy’s partner, slim, dark eyes,
Lucy Bridges: Detective Sergeant, caramel colored hair, mole on her cheek,
Frank Duffy: solicitor, father was a lawyer,
Beverley Johnson: former Las Vegas mayor, powerful personality
Not a lot of description for the characters so I didn’t get a mental picture of them. There is some depth but not a lot. This isn’t a character driven story but I would have like to have seen a bit more substance. Plus, the two cops aren’t very cop-ish. They succumb pretty easily to the bad guy without a plan to subdue him and take control. At one point, Lucy sits with the bad guy on the sofa. I would have thought she’d stay away from the baddie with a gun. I expected more from Amy since she was the closest to Jason. I also thought Frank’s role in the story was minimally effectual even though he’s featured as a strong secondary character. I won’t play spoiler but he doesn’t add anything that somebody else on the trail couldn’t have discovered.
Conversations stay on point but no real distinct voices. The baddie with the cops isn’t menacing enough with his words. “I have no patience with either of you now.” As if the cops are recalcitrant children. Uses some cliché lines.
Some profanity. Tense problems in some sentences. This is all about the puzzle so the story stays with that a lot. However, this is not like a treasure hunt where people are traveling around the world discovering clues, or digging up stuff. The puzzle may take some research and some thinking but it remains centered on the Internet and the pages that Jason (and the author) have set up. The problem with this is there is little action because everybody stays in the same place. Readers are encouraged to play along. Once you get to a new page, stop reading and try to figure out the clues to the next page. Now, I don’t want to play spoiler but I will tell you this: it’s more than just looking at the words or the picture. The cops use some Photoshop software to help them, but for the most part, with some clicking and thinking, the puzzle is revealed. If you get stuck, just keep reading and when the cops figure something out, try again. The writing could, in general be tightened, there is a lot of passive voice so any action lacks tension.