A Deadly Row by Casey Mayes (Review #2)

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

A Deadly Row by Casey MayesA Deadly Row introduces readers to Savannah and Zach Stone. Savannah, a math and logics puzzle designer, helps her husband, a retired police chief, with his consulting business. They have left Charlotte for a home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Zach receives a call from the new Chief of Police in Charlotte, North Carolina asking for Zach to return to help on a case near and dear to the Stones. Grady Winslow, the mayor and a close friend of the Stones, is receiving threatening letters. There has been a series of high profile murders in the area and the current police chief is afraid Grady may be next on the killer’s list. While it might seem to be a stretch that Savannah would be welcomed into a police investigation, her skill with math and logic puzzles figures heavily into the final outcome.

This is an interesting first in a series book because it immediately takes the couple away from their home and back to Charlotte where there is quite a bit of back story to be told. And told it is-to the point that I checked at least once mid book to make sure this was in fact the first in the series! Another interesting thing is that while Savannah is a puzzle designer, and she does work on her puzzles throughout the book, that work is mostly done “off camera.” This is a good thing really because it means that people who DO NOT like to do these sorts of puzzles and especially people who are a bit math-phobic will still be able to enjoy the mystery in the book. Throughout the book Savannah is fiddling around with some letter and number codes that are on the threatening letters, but there is but one section where she is intently trying to “work math” on them.

As for the solution to the crime, the author played it fairly straight with the readers. I did figure out who the murderer was before the end, but was hopeless on solving the problem of the letters and numbers-though when all was revealed, it made perfect sense.

There is a second mystery in the book as well involving a secret in Savannah’s family. For me, that second plot was at least as interesting as the crime being investigated. I for one would love to have an uncle like her Uncle Thomas.

As a whole, A Deadly Row is a very strong beginning for a new series. I am looking forward to the second installment.

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