This review by JIM NESBITT
Jeannette Cooperman is a stylish writer with a sharp eye for detail and keen ear for dialogue – skills that are on full display in her new mystery novel, A Circumstance of Blood.
This is a marvelous book written in the tradition of the great British mysteries and has all the hallmarks – an amateur sleuth with a guardian angel former cop and spook, a semi-rural setting at a Catholic academy for boys, a McGuffin in the form of a stolen ancient map, hints of Satanic possession, a surfeit of suspects and, of course, a dead body.
It’s tempting to call this a cozy mystery, but it’s not. There’s a distinctly American quality to Cooperman’s tale that breaks with the cozy conventions. There are no broadly drawn supporting characters providing comic relief. Sex isn’t a dominant factor, but isn’t downplayed and is frankly presented.
Instead, there’s Sarah Markham, a journalist at the crossroads of her career. Markham is driven by a reporter’s dogged determination to dig for the truth of a flamboyantly rebellious student’s murder while she unsnarls the tangled emotions of her love for the founder of Matteo Academy, a Scottish Jesuit priest name Colin McAvoy.
Cooperman masterfully spins a web of intrigue for Markham, with lots of red herrings and a cast of characters with plenty of secrets to hide, each with their own possible motive for wanting that student dead. And she’s truly torn because McAvoy, trying to save his school from scandal, may have the most powerful motive of all.
Truth in advertising – this type of mystery isn’t my cup of tea. However, Cooperman’s writing and mastery of plot and character portrayal is so strong that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it – and anything else she writes in the future.