“Jesters and Junkies” is the first book of the Riley Reed Mysteries series. Set in the town of Stone Harbor VA, the book introduces the main characters. Riley Reed is a young woman who was abandoned by her parents at the age of 15. She became the foster child of a detective, and knows everyone down at the police station. Now, she has opened her own private investigation service. Riley is the type of hero that has to battle her own insecurities as well as the bad guys.
She is hired by the Clark family because their son, Dennis, was found dead of an overdose of drugs. He had been in rehab, and things were getting better for him. His parents want to know if there was any foul play involved in his death.
It’s a simple case, but the mystery isn’t the real purpose of the book. This story just sets the stage and introduces the cast of characters. The plot has a few twists and surprises. The ending is satisfying, but I found the motivation for the behavior and decisions to be inadequately explained.
The story is told in the first person, Chick Lit style. It’s a clean read without foul language or sex. The action scenes are about a chase, and use minimal violence. The plot moves along at a slow pace, but this is due to all the backstory that needs to be shared to introduce the characters.
The main faults of the book are that it wasn’t professionally proofread, and it needs more synonyms. The same noun will be used five or six times in one paragraph, making the writing less skilled. A larger vocabulary would have made the scenes more interesting and lively.
Some scenes need more dialogue tags (he said/she said). In several places, the first line of dialogue isn’t identified with who said it. I had to read the entire scene to find a tag, and then count backwards to find out who said the first line. Once that was determined, I had to read the scene again to understand what was taking place.
Overall, it’s a pleasant read that uses complex characters to play out a simple story.