In Come Join the Murder (ISBN 978-8-6072-9926-2), Holly Rae Garcia has written a tense and suspenseful thriller. It’s not a whodunit in the classic sense; we know who committed the crime. The question becomes if the killer will be caught. The question is also if the protagonist of the story will be okay by the end.
Rebecca Crow is an ambitious careerist at a firm, as well as a wife and mother. Rebecca’s husband and son go missing one day after their car breaks down with a flat tire. Quickly, searchers find her husband’s car in the river, with their son, Oliver, dead inside. Rebecca’s husband, Jon, is missing for much of the book, creating yet another point of anguish for Rebecca.
Rebecca becomes unhinged from her grief. She stops eating, loses weight, and generally fails to process her loss. Her office refuses to let her come back to work so soon after her son’s death. She begins to see her dead son in the backseat of her car when she drives.
Rebecca decides to hunt down her son’s killer. Instead she kills an innocent man who happens to drive a similar vehicle to the suspect’s vehicle. When she learns she has killed the wrong man, she continues to search for her son’s killer.
James Porter is a scum bag. He doesn’t even rise to the level of a professional criminal. He’s an opportunist and a bottom feeder. At the same time, James gets used to killing people. Even when he kills a child by accident, like Rebecca’s son, he dismisses it and uses twisted logic to justify the death. He kills on a regular basis through the rest of the story.
Garcia succeeds in creating a villain we enjoy disliking, but also a villain with potential for sympathy. But only potential. James’ treatment of the people around him is pathological. We want James to get arrested, but when he’s questioned by police, he manages to elude overwhelming suspicion.
There is a cop, a Detective Barnes, who is investigating the murders. He is the primary figure of law and order in the book, but he, like law and order, is destined for a cursory role. He questions James, but doesn’t figure out James is a killer. To be honest, Barnes doesn’t seem to get very far in his investigation, but then the story isn’t a police procedural and Barnes’ progress in his investigation is actually secondary to the main story.
While the death of Rebecca’s family is the tragedy that sets off the book, the primary tragedy of the story is Rebecca’s decline into homicidal despair. Even after she kills the who she thinks is the killer, she doesn’t feel better. When she learns she has killed the wrong man, she grieves further for the victim, but doesn’t relinquish her mission to kill her son’s murderer. She has tunnel-vision and disregards life nearly as easily as James.
Come Join the Murder is well paced and tense. The suspense builds steadily and lasts until the last page. It is a wonderful read. I look forward to reading more from Holly Rae Garcia.
Go forth and read it!