MOVE TO STRIKE - Sydney Bauer
It is probably no coincidence that this book is likely to appeal to fans of TV shows like CSI and Law and Order as the author says she is very fond of those shows and the book has a structure, subject matter and delivery which seems somewhat reminiscent of that style of show (or at least what I glean from others about them) - I don't watch them, probably for the same reasons that MOVE TO STRIKE isn't really my sort of book.
Perfect Home. Perfect Family. Perfect Murder. That's what is printed at the top of the cover of the book and there is a lot of the "perfect" about the setting. A perfect family picture to the outside world, an idyllic lifestyle that is (unsurprisingly) covering up something more sinister. Perfect Murder is an interesting choice however and it was that line that intrigued this reader the most.
Cavanaugh is invited to an horrific crime scene - where an old friend has been the victim of a shooting. Her husband, a daytime TV psychologist, is the person who has confessed, but his story is inconsistent with the evidence and it's too fantastic to possibly be true. Besides that, it doesn't explain why so much evidence points at his own son. Cavanaugh knew the victim a long time before she married her husband and he had seen a marked change in her personality. But whilst her husband tries hard to project her as the problem in the marriage, it doesn't take too long for the truth to be revealed.
There is undoubtedly a skill in the prose and the story-telling in MOVE TO STRIKE. The action moves apace with only the very occasional bogging down in way too detailed descriptions of characters clothes and other irrelevancies. There are some dramatic plot twists and a number of viewpoints are covered within the investigation.
Undoubtedly a book for fans of the author's earlier books, or for readers who like those sort of big blockbuster legal / forensic stylings of books, MOVE TO STRIKE didn't appeal to me at all. Perhaps it was that feeling of one step from a TV script, perhaps it was that blockbuster feel, maybe it was the incidentals of Cavanaugh's life which, as I've never read any of the earlier books, passed me by or were neither interesting or particularly engaging. In fact, the whole story was surprisingly uninteresting. Partially it was because I struggled to engage with any of the characters and I found the twists and turns too "convenient" to hold my attention. Partially it's because I'm still not sure what "Perfect Home / Perfect Family / Perfect Murder" is supposed to mean.
Doctor Jeffrey Logan, daytime TV's most loved psychologist, has a top-rating talk show seen around the world - his picture perfect life completed by his talented lawyer wife, Stephanie Tyler, their 16-year-old daughter, Chelsea, and 13-year-old son, J.T.
But this image of domestic bliss is shattered when Stephanie is killed instantly by a bullet from a big game rifle in the family's pristine Beacon Hill kitchen. The consequences of her death are catastrophic as Doctor Jeff confesses, despite all the evidence pointing directly towards his blood spattered son.