Widows & Orphans is a solid start to Susan Meissner’s new Rachael Flynn mystery series. A number of Susan’s previous books contain elements of suspense but this book revolves solely around a murder and the impact on those associated with the crime.
Rachael Flynn is a successful young lawyer living in New York with her illustrator husband, Trace, enjoying a break from the law due to the birth to her first child, McKenna. When her mother calls to tell Rachel that her brother Joshua has been arrested, she is not surprised as Josh has a longstanding history of aiding the oppressed since a spiritual epiphany as a child. When Rachel realises the charge against Josh is murder and that he has willingly confessed she is shattered and convinced he is lying to protect someone else.
Susan Meissner has created an atypical heroine in Rachael, a woman trying to balance the responsibilities of motherhood, her sense of justice and the needs of her uncooperative brother. Rachael’s husband Trace and his eclectic group of friends are fascinating and their artistic skills play a unique role in Rachael’s investigation, another way the author has striven for a different approach. Trace’s best friend Fig is a quirky and fun character and provides a comic element which does not subtract from the serious subject matter of the book.
The suspense is skillfully maintained throughout the story with the conclusion unexpected yet satisfying. Susan also senstively deals with the issue of how God speaks to us and our response. I expect Susan Meissner’s writing will get stronger with each story and I look forward to reading more about Rachael in Sticks & Stones, releasing in January, 2007.