“Review of A Discriminating Death: A Jane Brook’s Mystery by Susan J. Dorsey with Rainstorm Press”
by Jay Wilburn
A Discriminating Death: A Jane Brook’s Mystery by Susan J. Dorsey with Rainstorm Press is a mystery with strong characters. I have reviewed more works from Rainstorm than any other, single press. They have consistently delivered solid stories in a wide range of styles. A Discriminating Death delivers as well.
Dorsey proves that a hair salon and a flower shop are the perfect places to solve a mystery in the South and probably anywhere. The suspects, witnesses, and clues come to them. There are still some harrowing stakeouts and dangerous locations to challenge and threaten our beloved characters.
Dorsey sets her story in Knoxville, Tennessee, but she digs deep throughout the history and culture of the South. Jane, Rodney, and rest of the cast are along for the ride trying to live their lives as the mystery demands more from them before the story is over. Dorsey takes the reader through the high class of the remnants of the Old South as well as the kitsch of the common man’s South. Southern readers may find themselves in old, familiar places while all readers will be in interesting scenery.
The Restin family funeral opens a world of power and death for the workers’ world of Jane and Rodney to watch. More is in store for all of them.
Helping a gay man find out if his lover is cheating may prove to be a dicey adventure. This will open the first hints of the secrets this story holds. Dorsey does an excellent job of including an important culture in the Southern landscape. The Gay South is much more a part of the fabric and deep history of the southern states than many people outside this region realize. Dorsey weaves these characters into her story in a meaningful way that does not turn them into cardboard cutouts or humorous caricatures.
The characters are the anchor and reward of this story.
This story is a very slow build. I thought that it was taking too long to get to the mystery as I read through the first act of the novel. Dorsey convinced me she knew what she was doing with her story.
An obscure, Appalachian legend and history comes into play. This will be a treat to discover for people outside the South and the Appalachian region. She also explores the issues and history of discrimination in very subtle and intelligent ways.
A paper at the door reveals a dangerous group that involves the safety of the ones the characters love. A disappearance begins the real suspense and the pieces of the mystery.
The pieces that build in the first half of the novel come together and pay off as the real mystery envelops the second half. As with all good mysteries, it is all connected and the truth will be revealed in ways the reader does not expect. As with all great mysteries, secrets hurt and can become deadly.
I wish I could just ruin the rest of the story for you because it would be fun to tell.
For Dorsey, relationships drive the story. The action is a payoff for sticking with the novel. Susan J. Dorsey serves patient readers. The greatest strength of this novel is the characters. I do not believe any of these character moments are wasted especially for readers that want to invest their time into a rich series. The characters carried me into the action. The setting kept me interested in the world they were navigating. The mystery kept me reading through the second half of the novel. The theory goes that the first chapter sells the reader on sticking with the novel while the last chapter sells readers on the next novel. I believe Susan J. Dorsey has sold me on Jane Brook’s mysteries and readers will be well served by A Discriminating Death.
(currently free to download 2/20-2/21)