Author: Maggie Sefton
Maggie Sefton is the New York Times bestselling author of Knitting Mystery series (Berkeley Prime Crime). Her debut knitting mystery, Knit One, Kill Two, was named an Agatha Award finalist in 2005. But Maggie has ventured into political suspense with a new series set in the treacherous waters of Washington D.C. Let's take a look at the debut novel.
Copyright: August 2012 (Midnight Ink) 288 pgs
Series: 1st in Molly Mallone series
Mystery Sub-genre: Political Suspense
Main Characters: Molly Mallone, former Senator's daughter, and a late Senator's widow
Setting: Modern day, Washington DC
Obtained Through: Publisher for an honest review
Ever since her late husband went through the emotional turmoil of D.C. that may have caused his death, Molly Mallone is jaded when it comes to Washington politics. Molly has moved back to D.C. out of necessity -- believing that she had a job in construction accounting. The job falls through within minutes of her landing in town. But her niece Karen Grayson works for Congressman Jackson and knows a Senator who needs an accountant. Before Molly can catch her breath, John Russell -- the new Independent Senator from Colorado, and Peter Brewster is his chief of staff have hired Molly.
Karen confides in Molly that she has had an affair with Congressman Jackson's chief of staff, Jed Molinoff. Karen is killed within hours of having a fight with Jed over breaking off the affair. Molly was to ride home with Karen and discovers her shot in her car. A work associate from Jackson's office, Celeste Allard, contacts Molly with suspicions about Jed's searching Karen's desk and computer plus other actions. Molly gathers clues with Karen's Day-timer, computer files, and emails with Celeste's aid. Some entries point to a political think tank that influences policy making in finance arenas. Molly is reunited with former friends and allies in the political scene that help her through her grieving, and give intel as she asks questions. In the midst of all this, Molly also reconnects with an old high school boyfriend, Danny DiMateo, who is retired from the military now.
There are sections told from a shadowy figure who seems to be behind Karen's murder, who even keeps track of Celeste and what she knows. There are no clues who this shadowy person manipulating events behind the scenes is throughout the story, even at the end. Clearly setting up this theme to continue into the next book.
The personality of Molly is a bit flat, although there is potential to give her more depth. I liked her okay, but with just a little more from the character I think I could have loved her. Danny DiMateo, dubbed DD for Damned Dangerous by his military cohorts, is the old high school friend who seems to pick up where he left off all those years ago with Molly. Samantha Suffolk is another old friend of Molly's who had married an older Senator who passed away, now she leads a bit of a scandalous life. I look forward to more of her in the next book as she could really be a key character adding lots of flavor. Eleanor MacKenzie is a formidable woman in Washington social circles who considers Molly a protegee. Eleanor is another I would like to see more of. Celeste Allard is a friend you want on your side. I like her character's bravery.
The Washington locale is utilized, but without any real evocative touches. The restaurants seem to be the most visceral of the setting. The story moved a little slowly getting started. Plus, obvious keys to Karen's death are never seriously considered after being uncovered. The author can't have just forgotten about them, so I am betting these will become more important in the next book. This strategy has its drawbacks because it leaves the book feeling open ended and the reader frustrated without any sense of completion on any level.
I appreciate the premise of this new series taking advantage of the brutal high stakes of politics and the schmoozing while stabbing allies and enemies in the back atmosphere. I also like the puppet-master behind legislation who is somehow involved in Karen's death. But the ending could have been handled better and still setup the next book. Give me some more depth to Molly and I could really be a fan of her.
Rating: Good - A fun read with minor flaws that has potential and room to improve.