Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Perish by Lisa Black
Kensington Publishing: 1/30/18
eBook review copy; 320 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9781496713544
Gardiner and Renner #3

Perish by Lisa Black is a highly recommended police procedural/thriller and the third in the series featuring forensic expert Maggie Gardiner and homicide detective Jack Renner.

Joanna Moorehouse, owner and founder of Sterling Financial, is found brutally murdered in her mansion on the outskirts of Cleveland. Her body is found stabbed and gutted on the marble floors in the living room. The pristine home shows no blood trail, no fingerprints, no trace of the killer's ingress or egress from the murder scene. It also contains few clues to any personal life of  Moorehouse.  Is the brutal murder due to a hatred of Moorehouse, or does it have something to do with her business? And what about her overseas bank account containing an unbelievably high balance?

While Maggie is struggling with the lack of trace evidence, Detectives Jack Renner and Thomas Riley are doing their best to investigate the murder, and it appears that corrupt practices might have something to do with it. Moorehouse’s employees at Sterling Financial are all business. None of the staff were friends or interacted socially with Moorehouse. The one exception might be Jeremy Mearan, who was sleeping with her. There other suspects at Sterling itself, a crooked predatory mortgage lender where everyone is out to make huge bonuses while ignoring the group of protestors outside the building. Sterling is also about to be bought out by another company, so tension is running high at the business.

When another woman is murdered in the identical way, it becomes clear that more is going on than Maggie or the detectives realize.  They need to find out why these women were murdered and who would benefit from their demise. It might be tied into the complicated and suspect practices of subprime lending and the anticipated resulting credit default by consumers, but would that be a reason to kill?

Perish features the excellent writing that I expect from Black. The plot flows smoothly; the descriptions are perfectly captured. The tension mounts incrementally as the investigation proceeds and more information is uncovered and clues are followed. Admittedly, the financial information does become a wee-bit tiring after a while, but it also provides an education on why the mortgage lending crisis of 2008 occurred and a solid basis for the investigation.

Readers of the series will know the history of Maggie
Gardiner and Jack Renner. Although their background isn't completely explained here, new readers are provided with enough information to understand that there is a backstory, and comprehend the significance of their actions, and the quandary both characters face. It does mean that they will not appear to be quite as well-developed as characters if this is your introduction to them. (I felt the same starting with the second book, Unpunished, but this time I knew some of the backstory and felt more comfortable with the characters.) The investigation is solid, however, and that will please new and old fans of the series. I'm looking forward to the next novel featuring Gardiner and Renner, Suffer the Children, as clues in this one point to some major developments.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Kensington Publishing via Netgalley.

No comments: