A Dramatic Police Procedural Mystery: Review of ‘Murder in the Worst Degree’ by F. M. Meredith

Murder in the Worst Degree is the tenth book in F. M. Meredith’s Rocky Bluff Police Department series. You can read an interview with the author here. I selected this title from Cheap Kindle Books.

Summary

Set in the fictional town of Rocky Bluff on the Southern California coast, the book focuses on two cases to be solved by the Rocky Bluff P.D. The first case centers on the dead body of a wealthy elderly man, Harlan Knight, discovered on the beach by two surfers.

Except for the dead body washed up on the sand, conditions were perfect for surfing. Thanks to a big storm coming from Alaska, spectacular waves rolled in. They rose in dark blue-gray splendor with a magnificent header of sparkling foam before they crashed and rolled toward shore. Another set of perfect waves formed right behind.

It turns out that the cause of Knight’s death is not drowning, but an overdose of prescription pills. Detectives Doug Milligan and Felix Zachary investigate numerous suspects: the son, grandson, daughter, housekeeper, the housekeeper’s son, Knight’s three Marine friends and a secret girlfriend, all of whom stand to inherit from Knight’s will.

Meanwhile, Doug’s wife Police Officer Stacey Milligan and her partner Lizette Gibbs investigate two rapes cases in Rocky Bluff. When one of the rape victims gets a look at his face, the description she gives turns into a computer-generated composite sketch that the officers immediately realize looks a lot like one of their own, Police Officer Ryan Strickland. Strickland’s wife Barbara has just given birth to a baby girl with Down Syndrome. Strickland who at first was not sure if he is up to being a loving father to a child with special needs now faces more challenges as he becomes a person of interest in the case and is put on paid administrative leave.

Evaluation

A distinctive feature of the book is the interaction between the daily professional and personal lives of the officers in the Rocky Bluff P.D. As the inquiry into the murder and the rapes continue other crimes need to be dealt with, an assortment of drugs, car accidents, suspect chasing, burglaries and there is even an earthquake to contend with. The officers also adjust to a new police chief, Chandra Taylor. The book even touches on how small towns handle the pressure of rising crime with budget cuts and the shortage of resources.

It seemed odd to Stacey that the chief no longer had a full-time secretary and the office stood empty half of the time.

Along with this the officers deal with the usual run of love interests, family interactions and concerns. The blend of the ongoing police activities with each of the officers’ home life creates a satisfying story.

Despite being the tenth installment in the series the book is written to be self-standing and read on its own. Generally I do think the story holds up well for readers new to the series but it would have been a bit easier to keep track of and connect with some of the characters if you had read the earlier books. A list of the main characters with a brief summary of their background inserted at the front or the back of the book would have been a helpful resource. For readers new to Rocky Bluff it might often be difficult to know when was the last instance of a character and requires going back a number of pages to see who they are, their job title, who they are involved with or married to and the names of their children. In a long running series there are a numerous players whose relationship to other characters might not be always obvious. A cast of characters is a convenient place to refer back to place the narrative in context.

Conclusion

You will want to keep reading this book to find out how the cases will be solved. Rocky Bluff is a heartwarming place where you can get to know the characters while trying to figure out the mystery. I can imagine the Rocky Bluff P.D. stories as a great weekly television series that people look forward to tuning into regularly to see what else happens to each of the characters and how the mystery unfolds. I am now motivated to read all of the books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series by F. M. Meredith.


Murder in the Worst Degree by F. M. Meredith (2014)
168 Pages. Oak Tree Press, Hanford, CA
Purchase it at Cheap Kindle Books here
Purchase it on Amazon here
Add it to Goodreads here

–Nighttime Narratives

Comments

  1. Wow, thank you! This is a wonderful review!
    Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith

  2. Nancy LiPetri says:

    Congratulations on another great review, Marilyn!

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