Idyll Hands: A Thomas Lynch Novel. Stephanie Gayle. Prometheus Books. September 2018. 304 pp. ISBN#: 9781633884823.
Michael Finnegan is a rookie cop who puts up with a lot of newbie banter in his job on the Charleston, Massachusetts police force. One matter, however, consumes his life in many ways. In 1972 his sister Susan disappeared. At first no one even called the police as she had run away two years previously. Now, Michael is riddled with guilt wishing he had initially taken her absence more seriously and his attempts to find her are fierce.
Twenty plus years later, an arm and then the entire body of a murdered woman is found in the woods. It turns out it’s not Susan but a different woman named Elizabeth. Police Chief Thomas Lynch is a gay cop who is ultra-sensitive about his life style but has “come out,” albeit shyly and quietly. However, he is a sensitive guy internally, albeit gruff externally, who agrees to help Finnegan with his search for his sister if Finnegan agrees to help with the investigation into the murdered woman’s killer.
The story is told from two points of view of the past and present which enables the reader to think he or she is also doing the investigation into these two mysteries. It works well even though the course of the searches seems to progress quite slowly, more like the real world and not a TV 60-minute crime story.
Small towns have large secrets and there are plenty in Idyll, Massachusetts. No spoilers here! Obviously, the mysteries will be solved as the police pick through the facts and fiction of the town where everyone knows everyone else but are careful about what they reveal. This is a satisfying mystery because the pace is perfect and the revelations about the families, friends, neighbors and acquaintances are clearly clues as to the loves and hates of seemingly innocent, quiet residents. New relationships are forged in the process.
Idyll Hands… is a cleverly crafted novel that will truly satisfy mystery fans and even contemporary fiction fans. Nicely fashioned fiction, Stephanie Gayle!