Piercing the Veil is a first murder mystery with a flair for the occult by new author, Jacqueline Fullerton, a former attorney. Ms. Fullerton should perhaps have stuck to her earlier career path.
Set in a small midwestern college town, the story focuses on one Anne Marshall, court reporter and law student, who gets caught up in one of the courthouse cases she is covering - a bitterly contested divorce. One night Anne is visited by the ghost of her lawyer father, dead two years now, who encourages her to take a closer interest: the husband may be hiding large amounts of money in an offshore account. As Anne starts her amateur sleuthing, she involves members of her law school study group –including a police detective, an accountant and a computer consultant – and her assistant district attorney fiancé. When a key witness in the divorce case winds up on the wrong end of a meat tenderizer, Anne realizes that she may be in over head but she’s too obsessed, both with the case and with spending time with her dearly departed dad, to stop now.
I had a tough time finishing this book even though it is only a 208-page large-print paperback. The writing is amateurish with scarcely a compound sentence in the entire novel; the dialogue is stilted and trite; and the characters are largely undeveloped, even the heroine. Since the ghost of her father plays an actual role in this novel, it would have been nice to delve a little more deeply into Anne’s presumed feelings of loss, confusion and love other than feeling “the pain [of his loss] deep in her soul.”
I feel as though there were some missed opportunities in Piercing the Veil. The central mystery itself was decent, with a nice mislead in the murder, although Fullerton wraps it all up pretty quickly. In addition, for a story with a ghost as a main character, Anne’s dad should have been around a little more: he almost could have been edited out of the book entirely and would scarcely have affected the story.
I understand that Piercing the Veil is intended to be the first in a series of Anne Marshall mysteries. Hopefully later volumes will flesh out the characters a little better and smooth out the unsophisticated prose. Otherwise, John Grisham has nothing to fear from this latest lawyer-turned-novelist.
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