Monday, October 24, 2005

MURDER ACROSS THE BOARD by Jane Barcroft (iUniverse)

I was tipped off to MURDER ACROSS THE BOARD by Jane Barcroft almost simultaneously by a contact in the industry and a friend in local government near where I live (if you recall, I am in the DC area.) Turns out the book is a murder-mystery about real-life Arlington County (Northern Virginia) Board Members. Sort of.

Sound boring? Stay with me.

Hector de la Roja (incredibly similar to real life Walter Tejada) gets murdered early in the novel. Barbara Favola is hauntingly close in appearance and style to Betty Bravo (or vice versa, depending on your point of view.) The list goes on and on. Real life people who get involved in a not-real-life murder.

And then there's the author, Jane Barcroft--who doesn't seem to exist. We can only imagine she (he?) did not make such similar comparisons to her (his?) actual name.

Is this story of local interest? Sure. But the writing here is so good it is irrelevant. This is just as good a murder mystery as you will find anywhere, with a compelling story and clever writing to match. And since when does locale make a difference? Heaven knows Mississippi politics are of interest only to folks in Mississippi (and even then . . .) but John Grisham makes a case for paying attention in at least a third of his books.

The story is truly twisted (right down to our protagonist--a man--having the name Paige) and the murder-mystery here is fun and energetic. No one is who they seem in this fast read, and as the story unfolds, the plot rolls along like a freight-train. What may have started as a goof on some friends or a dig at local politics has turned into a clever, engaging page-turner.

Drop this baby in your Amazon shopping cart.