The daily grind of police officers on the beat and the trials they face come to life in Peter Warren’s third murder mystery, “Murder in Murrells Inlet,” featuring Paul Waring. The Grand Strand’s underbelly, lined with greed and violence, keeps this retired Connecticut cop from living peacefully, especially when a criminal goes on a rampage and the local police need all the help they can get.
Two corpses found within a week of each other, both bludgeoned to death by a broken flag-pole flying the Dixie flag, has the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Department on edge. Before they can establish if there is a serial killer roaming their stretch of coast, a Catholic priest is shot in his confessional booth.
Captain Bobby Ray Jenkins, already short on patience and staff as it was, now has two crime scenes to gather evidence from in one day. Though there isn’t enough evidence to connect the murder and the shooting to each other, just enough of it has Bobby Ray, Paul, and their fellow investigators on the alert for a madman.
Unfortunately, the criminal continues to spiral into insanity leaving more violence in his wake and Paul Waring’s wife in a hospital bed. Though the retired cop removes himself from the field to be by her side, his investigative instincts continue helping the team as they track down the murderer in many familiar areas of the Grand Strand.
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Warren’s experience as a retired police officer means as an author he now has a good understanding on how the process works. He is able to describe crime scenes and the following procedures with some detail but without being too technical. This keeps his novels easy to follow, even for the readers with no knowledge about the legal system.
Multiple current and hot topics are brought up throughout the narrative, the foremost being the controversy of the battle flag associated with the Confederacy and the terrorism of ISIS on United States soil. The book’s villain, however, seems to be the type to use any excuse to commit crime and murder, very much appearing insane.
While there are occasional grammar mistakes, Warren’s cast of characters are enjoyable, particularly when they are bantering with each other. They are all human, with strengths and weaknesses, but it’s quite easy to root for them.
At the beginning of the book, Warren provides a quick list of characters and acronyms (though not quite complete) used throughout the novel, which is helpful for reference. He also ends his chapters with paragraphs meant to forebode coming events and increase reader curiosity, although in most cases it feels more like a break in the story’s flow.
Nonetheless, Warren’s recent novel paints a vivid picture of the Grand Strand, even its not-so flattering parts. With his many years as an officer behind him, Warren has now definitely established himself as a local author.
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At a Glance
Title | Murder in Murrells Inlet
Author | Peter F. Warren
Publisher | Outskirts Press
Length | 349 pages
Cost | $21.95