Title: The Cantaloupe Thief (A Branigan Powers Mystery #1)
Author: Deb Richardson-Moore
Publisher: Lion Fiction
My rating is 3.5 stars.
Branigan Powers is 41 years old and a reporter in a town in Georgia. The town is growing from small to medium in size, but the newspaper is struggling to maintain readership. The older folks in town still subscribe to the paper, but the younger set get their news via the internet. Branigan is given the story of a 10-year-old murder, the only unsolved murder in the town. With the 10th anniversary of the murder, Branigan revisits the family of the victim to interview them again in the hopes that maybe they might remember something.
A new angle presents itself to interview the homeless in relation to this crime, which Branigan does with the help of her good friend, Liam, a former reporter turned pastor. Branigan also gets help from some of the homeless in town who participate in Liam’s mission, outreach programs to the homeless. Then, unexpectedly, Branigan’s brother returns to town. He has been homeless and addicted to alcohol and drugs for years. He has been gone from town for twelve years. He has returned home to warn his son, who has been raised by Liam, of the dangers of addiction and how easy it can happen. As Branigan pursues her interviews, homeless people begin to be murdered. Have Branigan’s questions and pursuit of truth caused the murderer of ten years ago to become nervous or are these killings of the homeless even related to the 10-year-old murder at all? Is there a new killer on the streets?
For me, this would have been a 5-star rating if there wasn’t the use of foul language (no f-bomb) and the several references to drinking that were not in relation to the alcohol issue presented in the story. With alcoholism one of the problems of some of the homeless that was highlighted in the book, I thought it was a conflict of interest that Branigan, the nonalcoholic, seemed to want a drink so often. I thought the author did a great job of bringing to the forefront the homeless people and the myriad of problems they face. She gave them a real face, making readers aware of how they are treated as invisible or disposable. This aspect of the story really made me think about this social issue in my own city. The mystery itself was intriguing and kept me interested from beginning to end.
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