Tuesday, December 29, 2009
"There is no witness so terrible and no accuser so powerful as the conscience that dwells within us." Sophocles
When someone has ascended to the height of a profession, others are compared to them, some deservedly, some not.
With "The Lost Witness," Robert Ellis has been compared to Michael Connelly and I believe that the comparison is just.
In this story, Lena Gamble, L.A. detective is given a case of a body that was found dismembered in a dump. Lena is disliked by her superiors because of the way she handled a prior case in which a police officer was involved. The result was that for the last six months, she has been doing administrative work. Now she wonders if she is being set up with the new case.
As Lena investigates the murder, she is sent a drivers license identifying the Jane Doe as Jennifer McBride. Unfortunately, when Lena attempts to tell Jennifer's mother about her daughter's death, the woman tells Lena that her daughter has been deceased for over two years. Back to square one, Lena now has to find out who the Jane Doe was who stole the other woman's identity.
Lena and detective Rhodes follow the leads to a doctor who made a number of calls to the victim. The doctor, Joseph Fonatine, has something to hide but the detectives can't pin it down. Since the doctor also has friends in high office, the detectives are ordered to tread lightly.
The hunt for the killers goes through various trails, all the while, providing excellent tension as one clue and then another is revealed. At the same time, Lena discovers that there is corruption and deceit within her department and she may be the next target of those attempting to keep the facts of the case from going public.
Just when the reader might think that they have it figured out, Ellis plants another surprise in the story and this kept me at the edge of my seat.
The story was unique and the gradual manner in which Lena figures out what is happening was great. Lena Gamble seemed like a Jason Bourne of the Los Angeles police department. She is determined, ready to stand alone if necessary but smart and with the keen detective sense to know where to turn to find the answers. I was greatly entertained by this novel and recommend it strongly.