Witness to Evil by Janet Dawson
27th September 2021.
Jeri Howard series always offers something different, usually a social problem that encapsulates a crime or two. In this outing, Jeri has to track down runaway teenager, Darcy, who’s gone to Paris. It soon becomes clear that she’s tracking back through her grandmother’s time in Paris as a refugee from the Nazi occupation during World War II.
This history offers a hint at what’s to follow once Darcy’s returned to California. Sent off to a school for troubled teenagers, it isn’t long before she runs away and asks for Jeri’s help once more. It looks like Darcy may have murdered someone at the school.
But the truth is more sinister, as Jeri soon discovers.
Once again, Jeri is on the trail. The hunt through Paris is beautifully described. Darcy and her grandmother are terrific characters, both feisty and passionate about the truth. Back in California, Jeri’s journey is met with resistance from almost all sides as the school closes ranks, making for an intriguing and tense investigation.
It all leads to a dramatic climax that’s as exciting as it is tense, providing the perfect finish to a riveting story.
While you can read this book as a standalone, the Jeri Howard series is well worth a try as subject matter is always as intriguing as the investigations she undertakes.
Oakland private eye Jeri Howard has landed a sweet gig: five days of Paris cafes and museums on somebody else’s franc. The assignment? Track down and retrieve a precocious seventeen-year-old who swiped her mother’s credit card and took off for Paris. Finding the girl (who’s not exactly hiding anyway – after all, she’s using her mother’s credit card) is no mystery for a P.I. with Jeri’s investigative skills. But the girl, Darcy, is on a mission to uncover family secrets. Her grandmother, it seems, has a past life and identity she’s shared only recently. As it turns out, Darcy didn’t need to travel to Paris to confront the evil that retains its vicious hold on the world in a modern-day counterpart. It’ll be waiting for her at home.
Jeri’s mission accomplished, they part, with Jeri’s invitation to call if ever Darcy needs help. Distress code: “We’ll always have Paris.” The call’s not long in coming. Darcy is now a “person of interest” in a murder case and, once again, in the wind. People at her new school seem to believe the worst of her, the police are inclined to agree, and she’s been sighted driving the dead man’s car with a couple of skinheads on her tail. This is not what Jeri was picturing when she cautioned, “Stay out of trouble, okay?”
The murder victim was the school handyman, an average-looking joe who kept some pretty rough company – skinheads with steel-toed boots and swastika tattoos. School officials have issued a gag order, but Jeri manages to glean one clue from Darcy’s roommate – the murder victim is not who he seems. Jeri relentlessly chases down the victim’s identity and teases out the connections that weave a web of hate from World War II to Darcy’s campus. As always, Jeri gets the last word – and the satisfaction of getting in a few good licks.