Title: Death Notice
Author: Todd Ritter
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Kat Campbell is the chief of police of a small town in Pennsylvania and she likes the quiet life. One of the biggest cases she’s had is the theft of a local flower delivery truck. But Kat is about to get more than she’s bargained for when a coffin is found on the side of the road with a murdered man inside. In over her head, Kat gladly accepts help from the state bureau in the form of Nick Donnelly, head of a task force in charge of hunting down a serial killer. Convinced this is just the latest in that series of murders, Nick and Kat try to find out who the murderer is and why they have chosen to attack in Perry Hollow.
I’ve become a real lover of well-written mysteries, so when I noticed Death Notice in Minotaur’s catalog, I immediately knew I wanted to read it. It sounded like a promising debut novel and I was excited when it finally arrived on my doorstep.
Death Notice does not disappoint in any way. It is a thrilling, chilling, stomach turning ride trying to discover who is behind the Perry Hollow murders. Ritter ensures that the reader never gets bored; as soon as we get close to guessing the identity of the murderer, he throws in another curveball to keep us wondering. It really is a thrill ride from beginning to end, and you should be prepared to read it in one sitting. The mystery is well-written, absorbing, and, when the final twist is revealed, shocking.
Ritter captures the spirit of a small town wonderfully in Death Notice. From Chief of Police Kat Campbell to the town troublemaker Lucas Hatcher, Ritter takes care with each of these personalities, developing them in their own unique ways. As a result, the reader finds a colorful and appealing cast of characters who are anything but cliché.
The major characters all have their own unique identities. Kat is a single mother to a son with Down Syndrome. She’s clearly a devoted and loving mother, trying to provide everything possible for her son. Henry Goll, a recluse who works at the newspaper who becomes involved in the case, is a man traumatized by his past. He doesn’t know how to interact with people after what happened, so he’s stopped trying. Nick Donnelly is also damaged, but in a different way. He is consumed by his work because if he stops working, he’ll have to think about his past and that is unacceptable. I appreciated all of these people and enjoyed getting to know each of them.
I certainly hope that Death Notice is the first in a series, because these characters are too well written to not revisit. Even if it isn’t, though, Todd Ritter has himself a fan. He is a talented new voice in the mystery genre, and I will certainly be picking up whatever he writes next.