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A Twist of the Knife


A Twist of the Knife

In the myriad of mystery novels appearing regularly in bookstores and libraries, there is something for everyone. Detectives come in various genders, professions and styles. They live in venues across America and the world. Regardless of your interest, you can find a detective with whom you might have something in common. I read Becky Masterman’s first novel, RAGE AGAINST THE DYING, because its setting is Tucson, Arizona, where I spend a portion of each winter.

Masterman’s third mystery takes place not in Tucson, but in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It still features her protagonist Brigid Quinn, a retired FBI agent whose law enforcement career was cut short by Bureau politics. Over the course of Masterman’s first two novels, she brought two evildoers to justice in unorthodox fashion and almost lost her life. She also acquired a husband, Carlo, a former Catholic priest turned philosophy professor who has proven to be an enjoyable character. Carlo’s appearances here occur mostly by telephone, and his absence detracts somewhat from the overall quality of the book.

"A TWIST OF THE KNIFE is thoughtful, timely and poignant. It raises serious issues and offers deep insight into the debate surrounding the death penalty."

A TWIST OF THE KNIFE finds Brigid returning to her native Florida to attend to family matters. Her 83-year-old father is seriously ill and hospitalized. Her mother and police officer brother can use some comfort and assistance. Her former partner, Laura Coleman, who shares with Brigid the fact that each has saved the life of the other, is also living in Florida, volunteering her expertise to a legal team seeking to assist a death-row inmate who they believe is innocent of the crime for which he faces imminent execution.

Laura seeks Brigid’s help in the case of Marcus Creighton, who is convicted of killing his wife and is also suspected of murdering his three children, who have gone missing. The prosecution’s theory of the crime is that Creighton electrocuted his wife in the bathtub because he was having an affair and wanted to marry his lover. He snuck into the house to do away with her believing that the kids were away on a sleepover. When he discovered they were home and witnessed everything, he was forced to kill them and hide the bodies. The crime is now 15 years old, all appeals seem to have been exhausted, and the State of Florida is anxious to carry out Creighton’s execution.

Brigid is a reluctant volunteer to the Creighton defense effort. Her FBI experience tells her that he committed the homicides. But as she investigates, she discovers that the evidence of guilt is tainted by witness and investigator misconduct. The race to spare him from lethal injection is on, and for Brigid it is complicated by her father’s move to intensive care and her mother’s seeming inability to confront his failing medical condition.

A TWIST OF THE KNIFE is thoughtful, timely and poignant. It raises serious issues and offers deep insight into the debate surrounding the death penalty. Becky Masterman provides a balanced discussion on the question of how capital punishment is imposed in America. On the other side of the pages of the novel is an equally thoughtful presentation about death, family and how many of us face the dilemma of aging family members.

Brigid Quinn is a complex character who is not easily defined by her years in the FBI. After three books, she remains a heroine to be read and enjoyed. I look forward to Masterman’s next adventure, be it in Tucson, Fort Lauderdale or any other location.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on March 31, 2017

A Twist of the Knife
by Becky Masterman

  • Publication Date: September 25, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250160715
  • ISBN-13: 9781250160713