Mirrored Image, by Alice K. Arenz (Sheaf House Publishers, 2010)
Cassandra Chase loves her job writing an offbeat column with the Lakewood Journal. She’s not happy to be assigned human interest coverage on a recent murder—especially since she bears a strong resemblance to the deceased.
Lakewood is a small town; how can she and the murder victim have not known about one another? Especially when her investigation reveals so many common acquaintances?
Jeff McMichaels is an experienced homicide detective who’s recently joined the local police force. He doesn’t like the influential set’s untouchable attitude—even more so when some of them become key suspects. He also doesn’t like inflammatory journalists getting in the way of his investigation.
Cassie’s not out to cause trouble, just to do her job. But she won’t back down from the detective’s arrogant attitude.
Her home was broken into the night of the murder, and her own life may be in danger. With suspicion falling on those closest to her, McMichaels may be the only one she can trust. And their opposite personalities are definitely beginning to attract.
Alice K. Arenz has created such an intricate web of relationships and secrets that that one of the detectives complains he needs a scorecard. But everything unfolds clearly for the reader.
Cassie is a perky character and I liked her from the beginning, and while I couldn’t guess “whodunit” I had fun speculating on the various possibilities.
The puzzle is set in the prologue, where we see the victim dying. From her thoughts and those of at least two unnamed individuals, we have enough to lead—or mislead—us as we follow Cassie’s and Jeff’s investigation.
Mirrored Image is a romantic suspense that’s closer to the cozy end of the spectrum than the intense or frightening. The murder, and later events aimed at terrorizing Cassie, aren’t graphic or traumatic to readers. It’s a book that kept me reading, kept my mind guessing about the plot, without being too scary to read at bedtime.
I’ll definitely be looking for more from Alice K. Arenz. Her follow-up novel to Mirrored Image is An American Gothic, to release in October 2011. In the mean time I’ll be checking out her more comedic cozy mysteries, The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (a finalist in the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Contest) and The Case of the Mystified M.D. (which received the 2010 ACFW Carol Award for Mystery).