John Rosskopf’s mystery novel introduces Sacramento private investigator Jake Powers.
As the story begins, a wealthy woman arrives in Powers’ office, explaining that her daughter, Epiphany, was found drowned in the Sacramento River six months earlier. She claims Epiphany was murdered, despite police reports to the contrary. Informed that money is no object, Jake takes the case.
Later, while dining alone in a restaurant, Jake notices a woman staring at him. After she leaves, a server gives Jake the business card she left with a message to call her. The woman, Aisha Moore, is a physician and divorced, like Jake. The two begin a romance that provides a parallel storyline to the investigation.
As Jake learns more about Epiphany, he’s increasingly convinced her mother is right. His investigation leads him to the state capitol where Epiphany interned—and where powerful forces are determined to stop his investigation at all costs.
Rosskopf weaves an interesting mystery, but the story suffers from several flaws. Jake and Aisha fall too quickly for each other, stretching believability. More distracting is the wordiness that disrupts the mystery’s intrigue. Each time even minor characters are introduced, Rosskopf describes the person’s clothing: “The gentleman was wearing black slacks and a white, short-sleeved shirt with the name of the rental company on one side of his shirt and a nametag on the other that said Jeff.” Other mundane details also slow momentum: “He crossed the street and walked toward the doors of the north side of the Capitol Annex. That’s where he would go through security… When he got to the magnetometers, he emptied his pockets into a tray…”
Finally, there’s limited dialogue or direct communication among the characters. Instead, conversations and exchanges are often recounted.
Readers will appreciate Rosskopf’s descriptions of Sacramento’s downtown landmarks, parks and restaurants, and Jake’s persistence in his search for the truth is captivating. However, revision with attention to the abovementioned shortcomings would greatly improve the story’s appeal.
Also available as an ebook.