First Sentence: Dr. James Mason was more comfortable with the dead than the living.
In 1989, a small girl was brought to the morgue of Dr. James Mason. She was something of an anomaly as she was alive. Little Aurora’s mother had been murdered and they were looking for her father. Now, in 2014, upon the death of her grandfather, Aurora, now an ER nurse in New York, finds she needs to return to her home town of Cooper’s Bayou, Florida and the home of her birth to settle his estate. Josh Hudson, in looking for his missing sister, has been suspended from his job on the police force and relegated to the evidence warehouse, overseen by Samba, who knows where all the records and secrets are stored. Can the three of them find the answers they seek?
Harvey opens with an excellent hook; touching, interesting and compelling with characters with whom one can identify. Just as we become involved, we skip forward 25 years. And are introduced to new, equally compelling characters.
Harvey writes excellent dialogue—“All those blond techs look the same to me. Good genetic material for a baby, but about as interesting as unflavored oatmeal.”—as well as lines that make us stop and consider—“We all got something that haunts us, Josh.”
It is so important to have characters with whom one can emphasize and identify. Harvey’s characters are fully dimensional, and very interesting; Ruby, Doc Mason, Samba, Josh—but it is Aurora who is smart, independent, and doesn’t depend upon a man to save her, who truly captures our interest. Only occasionally does the fragmentation of the story make keeping track of them a bit challenging.
The sense of place is strong and visual…”The bayou was wilder here, the water heaving past in an unrelenting torrent the color of strong tea…” He writes with wonderful imagery…”The graveyard by the state prison was manicured and well-kept, but these people—people whose greatest crime was dying anonymously---were spending eternity in an overgrown dump.” One can even appreciate the fascinating information on voodoo versus voudon.
“The Evidence Room” has an excellent plot, with clever twists, very good suspense yet without overt violence. It is a wonderful debut by an author one should consider following.
THE EVIDENCE ROOM (Mys-Aurora Atchinson/Josh Hudson-Florida-Contemp) – Ex
Harvey, Cameron – 1st book
Minotaur Books – June 2015