Tuesday, June 26, 2018

What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka

First Sentence:  Urban renewal was in the air on Bryden Road.
Who is Marin Strasser?  PI Roxane Weary job is to find the answer to that question.  Her client, who hired her suspecting his wife, Marin, was having an affair, is charged with murder after Marin was seen arguing with a man that resulted in her being shot.  Roxane doesn't believe her client is guilty.  The more she digs into Marin's background, the more she finds Marin was not who she appeared to be.
What a great opening which establishes the author's very matter-of-fact voice and a strong sense of place.  Her imagery is equally strong—"Surveillance work was nothing but an odd, shaded view into someone's life, like watching television with the sound off."  Lepionka's wry humor is nicely done—"…my mother, Genevieve, was saying while she poked at something in the oven.  I stood at the counter with a cutting board and a jumbo Vidalia in front of me, because she was an eternal optimist and still thought I'd learned how to chop an onion properly at some point in my life."
The nice thing about Roxane's family is its normalcy.  Some members get on better than others.  There are squabbles and insecurities, support and love. Her family even extends to her friend, and former lover, Tom, about whose new girlfriend Roxane is conflicted—"She was girlfriend material, but she wasn't a partner. …She wasn't bone-deep loyal.  She wasn't ride-or-die.  Or maybe I just didn't want to like her after all."  Although Roxane is independent, smart, and capable, she is also vulnerable which makes her even more human.  A question provides a revealing statement about her—"Do you like being a detective?" …It almost didn't matter if I liked it, because it was the only thing I could do.  I needed to do it, whether I wanted to or not."—and the self-justification of one who drinks too much—"I liked whiskey. … I didn't have a problem with drinking, I told myself, but with everything else.  I had an unhappiness problem."
What an interesting trail the plot leads us down.  It has a strong sense of reality in that, although there is a mystery, it's also about relationships which have highs and lows, which work and don't work.  Lepionka is very good at shifting gears in the level of intensity and it's very effective.  The story builds on itself, layer-upon-layer, even though there is a questionable procedural detail of having the police cross jurisdictions without notifying the other department, but that's a very small point.
"What You Want to See" is very well done with complex characters, and dramatic climax followed by an unexpected twist.

WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE:  A Roxane Weary Novel (PI-Roxane Weary-Ohio-Contemp) - VG
      Lepionka, Kristen – 2nd in series
      Minotaur Books – May 2018

1 comment:

  1. I do like novels where the characters feel like real people, and it feels as though the situations could really happen. I'm glad you enjoyed this.