on Nov. 23, 2014 :
A Dead End in Vegas is one of those mysteries where you enter a stranger and leave with a satisfied sigh of familiarity. Its plot is winding, detailed, and includes enough twists that even this seasoned mystery/thriller reader was guessing - and that's one of this book's strengths.
Dave is about to go to the airport to pick up his wife, who has been in Phoenix for a week at a teachers' conference, when he gets the phone call: it's the Las Vegas police - and she's been found dead in a casino hotel room.
Tragedy often comes in 'threes', and thus what follows is a virtual onslaught of deaths and discoveries that rock Dave's world as his wife's death shatters other lives and, like a house of cards, causes more falls in return, from a terrible accident to a best friend's marriage cracked apart by grief.
As Dave comes to find out about his wife's secret life, her passion for an Internet stranger, and the illusions of his own world, he becomes increasingly involved in a hunt that comes full-circle to probe his family, friendships and psyche.
Now, if you're expecting a light 'whodunnit' type of mystery filled with entertaining twists, then A Dead End in Vegas might not be your cup of tea. Its intent is to wind emotional impact and high drama into its saga and it packs this into chapters steeped in tones of inevitability and despair as readers learn just how deeply poor decisions affect every life involved.
As seems inevitable with all good reads, the ending arrives all too soon. It feels abrupt: like the reader's been led down a garden path of complexity only to have everything snap to logical attention within a few short chapters. But that can be said of many a good book where readers might wish for as long and drawn-out an ending as in the rest of the book. Sometimes it's just hard to say 'goodbye'.
Pair gritty psychological depth with an investigation of illusion and what this does to everyone in a circle of love and you have a gripping narrative that is recommended not so much for light 'whodunnit' readers, but for those unafraid of getting their hands and thoughts 'dirty' with wrenching emotional twists and considerations of romance, appearances, and, ultimately, a different kind of love.
(reviewed 4 days after purchase)