Review: Rumor of Evil

By Nadia Bruce-Rawlings

“A 16-year-old exchange student accused of witchcraft—dark circumstances and sick rumors lead to her brutal death, a cover-up, and more murders two decades later.”
This is a great page-turner, a good summer-on-the-beach or winter-by-the-fire read. The author, Gary Braver, is the internationally bestselling and award-winning author of nine critically acclaimed mysteries and medical thrillers including Elixir, Gray Matter and Flashback, the only thriller to have won a prestigious Massachusetts Book Award.  
Braver takes us seamlessly back and forth between two decades in his newest thriller, Rumor of Evil. We begin with the investigation by Detectives Kirk Lucian and Mandy Wing into the possible suicide of a woman found hanging in her backyard. Only, of course, things don’t quite add up, and this hanging seems less than self-inflicted. I was settling into what I thought would be a basic whodunnit story, when things changed course…the murder of this Cambridge woman brings up the death, two decades earlier, of her classmate, a Romany exchange student who the popular kids were none too keen on. Detectives Lucian and Wing must figure out the connection.
The characters are all well developed and well rounded, and not too cliched. There are good side plots - Detective Lucian is separated from his wife after the death of their own child, and we see their love ebb and flow. Detective Wing is perhaps the weakest of the characters -- a gay, rookie detective. At one point she tries to set up Lucian with another woman, which was a bizarre scene where the reader wonders what on earth she was thinking, setting up this horrendous woman with him. It’s a scene that could have used some editing. However, for the most part I really like Gary Braver’s writing. I definitely wanted to know what happened, how these deaths/murders/suicides were connected and who was behind it all. The story moves well, rapidly but not too quick, if that makes sense. The teenagers are written quite nicely also - they are teens from 20 years past, a simpler time, and the way Braver develops them works well. They are certainly believable.
I generally steer toward indie-press books or literary fiction; I have never been a huge fan of page-turning detective novels, but I will change my mind for this one. I’d read more of Braver and would like to see his character Detective Lucian again.