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by KJ Erickson
St. Martin's Minotaur, May 2003
339 pages
ISBN: 031231468X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Erickson's first book "Third Person Singular" was my choice for best first novel of that year. She proved with her second book, "The Dead Survivors" that she was no one book wonder. With her third entry in the Marshall (Mars) Bahr series, she has established herself with a series that will have mystery fans anticipating each new volume.

Mars, with his partner and good friend Nettie, is about to leave the Minneapolis Police Department and work for the State investigating cold cases. The departure of a much admired police chief and the installation of an incompetent and glory-seeking political choice makes the move much easier for both of them.

Less than two weeks before their departure, the body of the brutally murdered Terri DuCain Jackmam is found in her home. Her father, when he discovers the body, is sent into shock from which he dies almost immediately. The DuCains are billionaires and the widower is the star player of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Tayron Jackman, aka T-Jack.

The bereaved mother and wife, Grace DuCain, is certain that T-Jack is responsible for both deaths. They knew that he physically and emotionally abused their daughter during the six years of their marriage. But T-Jack has a perfect alibi. As the murder was taking place, he was at the lawyer's office with attorneys and both DuCain's to sign a settlement. For one hundred million dollars he would allow Terri to divorce him.

The public at large would also like to see T-Jack take the fall for the murder. Though he is the top scorer on the team, he is a showboat who has been known to steal the basketball from his own teammates to make the shot. The new owner of the team would also like to see the hot dog player be eliminated from his roster. But T-Jack seems to have everything covered. In his brief meetings with Mars he shows the same arrogance and lack of emotion he displays on the basketball court.

With a deadline looming, Mars is hampered by the jealousy of the new police chief and the political maneuvering of the mayor who wants to chief to fall flat on his face so she can get rid of him.

Meanwhile, Mars personal life is also in flux. His ex-wife has found a new man and they plan to move to Cleveland taking Mars son, Chris, with them. Chris has to be the most likable child in any mystery series. The relationship between him and his father is very real and always interesting.

While Mars sorts through the lowlife denizens of Minneapolis looking for the killer he is certain that T-Jack hired, the reader is constantly guessing. The final twist is something that I never saw coming.

Mark your calendars for the May release of "The Last Witness". If you've already read Erickson's first two books, you'll do it without delay. If you haven't, you have plenty of time to get the other two read. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Doris Ann Norris, January 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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