Stalker, My Love, Zack Scott Publishing, an e-book mystery by Zack Scott.
Plot: Jennifer and Patrick Ray are owners of the prestigious accounting firm taken over from Jen’s father. They handle all of the town of Pine Ridge financial affairs. As such they are the town’s power and dominant family. Earlier in their marriage, Pat had made the decision to work with Sam Siegel and his corrupt organization. Jen had considered leaving him at the time, but several months pregnant with daughter Rosalyn, decided not to. Rosalyn, now a young woman and the subject of the story, suddenly disappears and numerous residents, as well as a mystery man present as possible suspects. Most prominent are Rhett Callaway and Earl Wick. Rhett is a strange character, seemingly somewhat compromised mentality, who is totally dedicated to Rosalyn and while in High School had saved her from a beating by her boyfriend Earl Wick. Earl was the school’s short tempered sports star who submitted to counselling and the Rosalyn/Earl relationship continued in adult life even though his post school life is a mess. Rhett is a suspect because, although his motives are unusual but non-sexual fantasy episodes, unfortunately was discovered by Rosalyn while he was indulging in his frequent stalking procedures. She had appreciated what he had done for her in high school, but otherwise had no interest in the boy/man and insisted he stop. Earl is a suspect because of his temper and her disappearance directly after a verbal battle at a local watering hole. The mystery man assumedly is involved with the Ray/Siegel relationship.
Numerous other characters, all inter-associated and long-time town residents, play important parts in the plot as well as multiple interwoven sub-plots. They include: Elliot Venice, relatively newly appointed female deputy sheriff and longtime friend of Rosalyn and Mimi Rycroft – the three former cheerleaders and staunch friends were known as REM; Rosalyn, as might be expected from her family position, was not the most thoughtful person either earlier or now; Mimi was the town’s cosmetologist and had an unfortunate reputation; Sheriff Mancini is the brother of Sonny who is Rhett’s employer in the town’s pizza restaurant: The town’s Senior Deputy is Cadmus Harper who is attracted to Elliot; A third seemingly not too bright young deputy Bobby Pearce functions best as the squads ‘Gofer’; Best-selling novelist Avery Kingsley, is back on a visit after being the only person who had escaped the town; A few individuals of lesser importance complete the list. The mystery eventually is solved after considerable convoluted activity and most loose ends are wrapped.
Discussion: The author has presented an unusual tale from several points of view. It provides a ‘sense’ of the thought processes of residents of a small town – everyone knows everyone from childhood to adult and many of the impressions initially gained and conclusions drawn are so ingrained that little, if anything, can be changed. Simultaneously, it provides a picture of the ‘trapped’ feeling many of these individuals experience. It further gives the reader a picture of how many of these persons, as they mature, have the tendency to retain earlier formed beliefs about others rather than accepting changes that occur – e.g. REM’s beliefs. They do not recognize that more frequently thoughts, actions and reactions might change as maturity sets in and the tendency may be to not accept, or may even resent earlier actions manifested. On the down side, the author’s repeated tendency to move from one action to a totally different action with different characters produces a ‘jarring’ effect that although assumedly to heighten suspense, can be quite annoying; the characters lack depth; it is seldom a town, of the size seemingly portrayed, can afford a sheriff plus three deputies and their level of expertise or lack thereof is astounding. However, in spite of these features and accepting the fact that only partially characterized individuals are provided, in this reviewer’s opinion the author has given readers a story so full of provincial, incompetent and mentally marginal persons, that if he/she continues past the early portion of the book, they will develop a curiosity with respect to how they may ultimately extract themselves.
3* Actually, 3 ½* If a reader proceeds beyond the early portion of the book, he/she may be ‘hooked’.