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by Gerrie Ferris Finger
Five Star, September 2013
298 pages
ISBN: 1432826972

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

This is the third Moriah Dru/Richard Lake mystery, though it is the first one I've read. Now that I'm finished, I'm anxious to go back and see what I've missed. THE DEVIL LAUGHED, however, is perfectly self-sufficient. Finger manages to fill in whatever background is needed transparently, so there is never the sense that the reader is being brought up to speed.

The book opens with the discovery of a submerged sailboat that had gone missing along with three of its passengers some four years ago. The fact that Lake Lanier, in northern Georgia and close to North Carolina, is surrounded by several counties had resulted in various law enforcement agencies either stepping on each other's toes or passing responsibility off to the other agencies involved when the boat originally disappeared. Unsurprisingly, this led to a lack of resolution.

Now, in the midst of a drought, Moriah Dru who is a private investigator with a specialty in finding lost children happens upon the boat submerged in a deep water cove while she is visiting her friend, a judge, at her lake house. In a twist on her usual jobs, she is hired by a child (and her well-connected minder) to find the young girl's mother, one of the missing passengers from the boat. As Dru searches through the wine country of North Carolina, the reader is introduced to the wine country in the area as well as the generations-old rivalries existing among both the wealthy land barons and the backwoods country folk. Wine, the growing of the grapes and the making of the drink, plays a significant role in the plot.

The plot is linear, which implies a simplicity that would not be an accurate description of the book. The characters are very well developed, as are the locations. The descriptions of both events and landscapes bring them to life with exacting language that is sometimes beautiful. At the same time, there is a lightness and humor to the book. And there is real complexity in the relationships that lead to the final solution of the mystery of what happened to that boat and those people.

THE DEVIL LAUGHED was a fast and engaging read. I'll be looking for the first in the series, THE END GAME, which won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery prize.

Sharon Mensing is the Head of School of Emerald Mountain School, an independent school in the mountains of Colorado, where she lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, July 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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