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A Reservation for Murder
AJ Basinski, author

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

Retired LAPD homicide detective, Lt. Mario Morales, traveled to a small Florida island, hoping for a romantic relationship with a beautiful Chinese woman. Instead, he finds himself involved in the investigation of two murders and the young woman disappears. Is it gold that provided the motive for the murders and the disappearance? Or is it something more sinister? When Lt. Morales gets to the bottom of the crimes, he is astonished as to who the murderer is: someone very close to him.

Following is the official review of "A Reservation for Murder" by AJ Basinski.]

3 out of 4 starsReview by bookowlieShare This Review

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A Reservation for Murder by A.J. Basinski is the second installment in the Lieutenant Morales Mystery series. Retired Los Angeles Police Lieutenant Morales stumbles into a murder investigation while on vacation in Palm Island, Florida from his security job on a cruise ship. A cooler is found in the water with a dismembered body inside and a second body turns up a few days later. Ed Shipley, a former LAPD colleague, is the local police chief and requests his help in solving the crime. Hoping for relaxation and a possible romance with his travelling companion Sun-Li, Morales reluctantly assists Shipley with the investigation. The plot thickens when Sun-Li disappears.

The real sparkler here is the layered plot. The author does a nice job of peppering the story with clues and help from far-flung sources. Lt. Morales is able to tap into his vast network of contacts and old friends from his LAPD career and a prior cruise ship case. These characters are deftly woven into the story without throwing things off track. There is also some comic relief as Morales’ contacts recall Shipley in a not-so-fond way.

The chapters are fairly short which helps to keep things moving at a consistent pace. However, it took a while to become absorbed in the plot. In the early chapters, Morales isn’t too focused on the investigation as he is preoccupied with romantic thoughts about Sun-Li. As the storyline unfolded, I became hooked. I can’t say that I was ever on the edge of my seat, but I certainly found the book hard to put down in the second half. Things heat up to a surprising conclusion as I was kept guessing right up until the end.

Lt. Morales is well drawn as a retired detective who utilizes traditional investigative skills. The supporting cast is also interesting with clear backstories. I liked that there was just enough description for each character without slowing the pace of the story.

There is a tell vs. show style on display at various points. At the end of a scene or chapter, there is often a comment that something will turn out differently than expected, it would be the last time a character would be seen alive, the main character would soon find out how wrong he was, etc. The book certainly has its share of twists and turns and it’s not necessary to remind the reader that things are not as they appear.

The dialogue is a little clunky at times and doesn’t seem to be the way people would normally converse with each other. Also, I noticed at least twenty errors in this otherwise well-written book. The errors include missing/extra punctuation, misspelled words, incorrectly worded sentences, and missing/extra words.

I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. Although I had already read the first book in the series, this latest installment can certainly be read as a standalone. I recommend it to readers who enjoy light mysteries with a few twists. Lt. Morales is a character that any mystery fan would love.

A Reservation for Murder