23rd February 2021.
This is a deep, involving and complex story that deals with past injustices alongside a current murder. When a history professor is killed in a car park, it looks like a random killing. Then a woman turns up at his university, claiming to be his wife and alarm bells begin to ring. It’s time to call in private investigator Jeri Howard, whose father was a colleague of the dead professor.
Pretty soon, it becomes clear that the professor left a package that the bad guys want. But who would want to kill a professor, researching historical events in his homeland, the Philippines? This is what Jeri has to discover and it’s a slow torturous trail through the Filipino community in California where many are related by blood and marriage.
Who can she trust and believe? Who has a motive to kill the professor? More than that, what is the motive? It seems the answer lies in his research and the package everyone wants to find.
It’s a well-researched story with a detailed background and history of the people involved and their roots. More than once, I struggled with the names of characters and their relationships as the story unfolded. As the story progressed, I began to recognise the key characters and relationships, which helped to make sense of the players and suspects.
This early confusion didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story. The issues explored made this a private eye novel with a difference, which is always welcome, and added a depth to the background and characters that made the story more interesting and engaging.
This is the second book in the Jeri Howard series and I’m looking forward to reading more.
In Janet Dawson’s second absorbing Jeri Howard mystery, the tough-minded private investigator finds herself –in no time at all–at the center of an international jumble of war heroes, collaborators, resistance fighters, politicians, and crime bosses.
But in fine PI mystery fashion, the case isn’t at first what it seems. It begins small, with the grisly murder of a sedate, widowed history professor, written off as a random street crime until a woman turns up at his university, claiming to be his widow and demanding access to his “papers.” Jeri’s called into the case by her father, a good friend of Lito, the murdered Asian Studies professor, who tells her about a mysterious envelope he received from his friend on the day of his funeral.
A note with the package said “keep it safe”. And Jeri knows that’s the key: whatever was in it is behind Lito’s murder. Sure enough, it’s gone missing.
And Lito was just back from a research trip to the Philippines. What, she wonders, did he learn there? Once she realizes his research subject was the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in World War Two, things take a sinister international turn.
Off she goes, searching for answers in Lito’s close-knit Filipino community, a world alive with music, food, celebrations – not to mention power struggles, treachery, and betrayal. And then the case heats up. Because the past never dies—it just gets covered up.