It’s such a treat to start a new Phillips mystery.
In his newest release, Between Good and Evil, R. Michael Phillips excels at setting the stage for a good mystery. He gracefully brings new people into our lives, giving us time to get to know who is who. The dark yet very real worlds of his characters are so clearly defined that you are sucked inside and grabbed along in a slow-building rise of anxiety and danger.
From creepy Bob to Alice Johnson, characters are presented for our examination then determination. The female protagonist, Sheriff Promise Flynn, has interesting dimension and secrets, and we are gently treated to her past and motives, one stroke at a time, one surprise at a time. The dialogue between the councilwoman and Sheriff Flynn is just plain fun, and you recognize an Alice Johnson in your community. Phillips beckons you deeper inside the pages with these multilayered characters, and you follow. Because you have to know what comes next.
Artistically tucked inside the action is an escalation of fear as Phillips adroitly leads you through buildings and rooms where you know you shouldn’t be but can’t help follow along. As he splashes strokes of sensory details onto the page, you feel the cool pane of glass on your forehead, shiver in antiseptic corridors, or smell the dusty ash scattered along the floor.
I love this author’s attention to detail, and it’s necessary detail, not just as possible clues or evidence, but to firmly place you in that town, in that room, with those people. He sees what the casual observer would miss, and presents to us that what stands between good and evil is sometimes only a reflection.
Years after the Willis Asylum closed, the secrets of its past lingered in its decaying halls as a reminder to the good people of Auburn Notch—when Evil closes a door, he also opens a window. Sheriff Promise Flynn was new to the town, and she was about to find out some windows should never be opened.
Promise Flynn was an overly impulsive Metro Detective whose disregard for procedure finally resulted in her being shot and left for dead during an investigation. To repair her bruised ego and splintered confidence she abandons the callous dark alleys of Chicago to patrol the quiet, birch-lined streets of Auburn Notch—a favorite vacation spot of her youth. For two years everything was idyllic, until the body of a young girl found in the abandoned asylum outside of town awakens the insecurities she thought her new life would insulate her from. As the new Sheriff she begins her investigation refusing to accept the similarities between the young woman’s death and her own case, oblivious to being unexpectedly recognized and penciled in at the top of a clever murderer’s To-Do list. Her internal struggle intensifies when a discredited crime reporter from the past suspiciously arrives in town to resurrect his threadbare reputation, along with an FBI agent chasing down a lead in a cold case. Both men quickly become entangled in Flynn’s investigation and her attempts to finally put her past to rest.
Visit R. Michael Phillips and take a look at this title, as well as his mystery collection, the Ernie Bisquets Series, also a true delight.