Pros: Mystery with robbery element; good characters
Cons: Too many suspects with similar names (that fit a clue)
The Bottom Line:
Justice for a cop
Turf wars and robbery, too
Can Joe Catch a Cop Killer?
It’s amazing how some things stay with you from books. It’s been over 20 years since I first read the Valley of the Sun Mysteries. I could only tell you three character’s names from the series. Yet I can also tell you the setup of each book in the series. I couldn’t tell you much more than that about Mouse Trap before rereading it, and I found that I enjoyed my recent trip back to Phoenix.
Phoenix homicide detective Joe Rodriguez is called to the hospital on his day off. Marsha, nicknamed Mouse, works in the robbery division, and a meet she had with an informant about an upcoming plot to steal Native American silver pieces went horribly wrong. Joe is only able to get a partial name from the informant before both of them die.
Because Mouse was one of their own, everyone in the police department is working hard to catching the killer. However, Pete, head of the robbery division, is taking the case personally since Mouse was his protigee. Since Joe and his partner, Tom, aren’t officially the leads on this case for homicide, they are pursuing tangential leads, which find them crossing into the robbery spear of the investigation. Will they piece together clues to find the killer? Or will their investigation cause too many problems between divisions?
While I enjoy reading murder mysteries, I do miss the other crimes that come into play in mysteries aimed at kids. I appreciated this book because the added robbery element recalled some of that. Not that this narrows the suspects at all since Joe and Tom managed to uncover several collectors and museums with quality pieces that could be the target of the theft. This sends them down several wrong paths before Joe pieces things together.
In Sandy Dengler’s mysteries, when we get a clue, it seems that it applies to all the suspects. In this case, that clue is a partial name the informant manages to give out as he is dying. Unfortunately, we wind up with too many suspects with that as part of their first or last name, which makes it hard to remember for sure who all of them are. As we get to know the suspects better, it does become easier as their personalities become better developed.
This book was originally written for the Christian market. In the first book, Joe became a Christian himself, and it is interesting watching him deal with some of what he knows he should be doing even if he doesn’t know much about his new faith yet.
His love interest is completely off the page in this book, yet she still adds an interesting sub-plot for Joe as well.
It’s fun revisiting Mouse Trap and looking at how these books stack up now that I’ve read so many more mysteries. So far, I’m finding them as good as I remembered.
Enjoy the rest of the Valley of the Sun Mysteries in order.
This book is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.