Honor Kills by Nanci Rathbun
Honor Kills (Angelina Bonaparte Mysteries)
Hard Boiled Mystery
3rd in Series
Dark Chocolate Press LLC
Paperback: 284 pages
Digital ASIN: B07BH61872
In most mysteries, the pleasure of reading is not only found in the search for the murderer or unraveling a plot puzzle, it is also rooted in the determination of the main character and the complexities of her relationships. In Honor Kills there is plenty of both, with an extra element of humor to boot. Angelina Bonaparte, the protagonist, is a quick-witted, maverick detective whose work as a private investigator is just as important as her relationship with special agent Wukowski. When Angie is called to help find a man who supposedly deserted his family, she must uncover years of history that leads to an entanglement of false identities, which ultimately forces her to confront some of her own family secrets.
Despite her skills as an investigator, Angelina tries to establish herself as a normal sixty-something woman. She insists that people call her “Angie” and has a penchant for fancy undergarments and cheetah-print tops, which she often wears while on business. What I liked the most about Angie, however, was not just her unique qualities but that even during the midst of a harrowing investigation, she still took time for her family. In fact, there is a very touching scene where Angie invites her family over her dinner and remarks on the distinctive personalities of her grandchildren, including “little Angie,” who wants to be a detective just like her grandmother. It is these moments that make up the heart of the story and transform Honor Kills from an exciting mystery to a moving account of maintaining humanity and love in the face of chaos and uncertainty. Angie makes it clear that while she is extremely dedicated to her career, her most important duty in life is her role as a mother and grandmother. I spent this entire novel cheering for Angie, from when she first interacted with Hank’s (the missing agent) family to the moment she was forced to choose between her relationship and her career.
While I may not have always agreed with Angie, I respected her decisions, and I found myself cheering for her anyway. And that is the marker of a truly good writer- to create a protagonist that is flawed but still worthy of respect. As much as I love reading about sinister plots and psychological suspense, Ms. Rathbun perfectly captures the heart of a mystery, which is all about humans and the complexities of their relationships.
For a 50-something mom, Angie Bonaparte can sure handle the bad guys. Angie is a believable blend of tough stuff and compassion, and uses both for her clients. But just like organizing all the dishes to a huge Thanksgiving dinner, Nanci Rathbun stirs up tension and keeps us licking our chops for the final sit-down.
With well-placed exposition, and clear introduction of secondary characters, the author sends our protagonist on a seemingly mundane financial inheritance investigation, which soon explodes into an appalling murder and horrific revelations from the Bosnian War.
While the entrée is cooking, meet Bobby, a sweet and brotherly cohort, who shows us just what he’s made of during an exciting chase scene that will quicken your heartbeat. There is Ted, Angie’s delicious “special friend” and Ted’s mom, who is rather intriguing with a story of her own. I hope to learn more about her in the next book. And Spider, a security bodyguard with a heart. There are some Stephanie Plum elements here, but Angie is truer to life and thus able to earn my empathy.
The inheritance issue, murder investigation, transformation of Adriana, and a turn in Angie’s relationship with Ted, are all bound neatly together in an orderly menu. The author does a splendid job of keeping the threads pulled in the same direction, all tumbling toward the finale. A satisfying conclusion to the investigation leads you to think all is well. Ah, but there is that huge family Thanksgiving dinner to attend. And introducing Ted to Angie’s Sicilian-American Papa is not going to be a piece of cake.
Truth Kills, by Nanci Rathbun
An Angelina Bonaparte Mystery
Genre: Mystery, Private Investigator
I want to be Angie. She is confident, daring, smart, resourceful, empathetic, and 50-ish. So it’s okay for her to stumble a little and show us how real she is. Which she does. A romantic interest subplot flows along at a realistic pace, and casual sardonic side remarks will bring out many well-timed chuckles. Secondary characters are not stock but intriguing and entertaining. The attention to investigative details will bring you closer to Angie as you sit alongside her and try to piece together motive, means and opportunity.
It is easy to see how the ‘family’ background provides the impetus for Angie’s actions. A good tense moment near the end provides satisfying justification to the prior build in action. With everything tidied up at the end, I’m hoping book two will have an equally engaging subplot as I sneak along with Angie during her next assignment. This is a solid investigative mystery with a well-defined and pretty darn cool protagonist, clear obstacles, and an enjoyable read the whole way through.