When I read the blurb for A Message in Blood by Catherine Maiorisi, I really wanted to get the novel. The blurb sounded really exciting, and just my kind of book. I also knew that Ms. Maiorisi is an excellent writer so I was sure the book would be good. There was just one problem. This is the third book in the “Chiara Corelli Mystery” series, and I haven’t read the first two novels. Reading this book before I read the first two would be breaking my “always read a series in order” rule. But hey, rules are made to be broken, right? Yes, I broke my rule and got the novel, and I’m very glad I did.
This is one of the best investigative mysteries I’ve read in a very long time. The story follows NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli and her partner Detective P.J. Parker as they are sent to a very politically sensitive murder scene. The three murder victims are a U.S. Senator, a mega church pastor and a music industry mogul. As they follow the leads in this crime, the two detectives find the real victims are not necessarily the three murdered men, but the children involved in a child sex-trafficking ring these men have been involved in. Not only do Corelli and Parker have to find the killers, they have to root out the people running the trafficking ring and also deal with those who want the investigation covered up.
It’s been a while since I’ve read such an exciting mystery novel. The plot is complex and intriguing, with twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end. The main characters are very well developed but the secondary characters, and especially the bad guys, are equally well done. The pace of the plot is perfect. It seemed like the story never slowed. There was always something new happening. Even with the heavy subject matter, there is also a positive, upbeat feeling to the story, especially toward the end, and not just about the investigation. A lot of this feeling is because of the characters themselves.
I do need to give a trigger warning for this novel. There is discussion of child sexual trafficking. It is not graphically shown happening in real time, but the investigation does involve finding and punishing the perpetrators of the ring, so there are discussions of it in the story. Also, Corelli is experiencing PTSD from losing her partner during her service in the Middle East, and there are discussions of the symptoms and therapies for those suffering PTSD.
I’m very glad I read this novel. The mystery and investigation is complete and I never felt I was missing something I needed from the earlier books. Having said that, I definitely want to go back now and read the earlier books in this series. This novel has my highest recommendation, and if the earlier stories are anything like this one, they will also have the same recommendation.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bella Books for an honest review.