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Familiar Friend

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted July 12, 2009

    How are we to take this story seriously?!

    I have just finished reading the 3-volume set of crime novels written by Cristina Sumners, revolving around the characters of Kathryn Koerney and Tom Holder. As I got further into the 3rd book, Familiar Friend, I became almost appalled by the glaring inconsistencies in the narrative! Given the accolades heaped upon the author by her crime fiction peers, I have to wonder how carefully they read these books; even more so, whether her publisher read them at all!

    If you will permit me, I ask that you consider the following:

    . After the 2nd murder (of Jamie Newman), Police Chief Holder questions everyone at the MacDonald's house individually, in an upstairs room, while the others sit around downstairs waiting their turn for interrogation. Chief Holder seems satisfied that all their stories gibe. Isn't it obvious that everyone downstairs could have agreed on one story while the Chief is upstairs? .

    . Maybe I've watched too many episodes of 'Law & Order' (I did work for 30+ years, in enforcement, fora regulatory agency), but I have never heard of a District Attorney having the authority to walk into a Police Chief's office and summarily suspend him from duty! Where on Earth did Ms. Sumners come up with that plot device?! And, it is at least implied that Lincoln Massey is arrested by D.A. Silverman; this, also, is above and beyond his authority!

    . After his wife disappears in a stretch limo, Chief Holder checks a variety of rental car firms. He determines that a rental agency at Newark Airport had 3 such limos rented on the day in question. Two of these traveled from Newark to Atlantic City; the third, rented by T.N.K. Public Relations, traveled from Newark to Philadelphia. Which of these limos was more likely to pass through, or near, Harton (Princeton, NJ, as acknowledged by the author, herself)? Only the 3rd. Yet, chief Holder goes on a 'fishing expedition' to Atlantic City, then does an absolutely cursory investigation of the more likely rental! How does this guy hold down a job more important than issuing parking tickets?!

    . In Chapter 22, Tom & Kathryn have students role-play how Tracy's drink was prepared at the MacDonald's reception. At the end of this effort, both of them realize that Patrick Cunningham was the poisoner of Jamie Newman. Knowing that they had sent Cunningham away to keep watch over the now-Widow Newman, what do they do next? Do they spring into action, immediately contacting the police officer following Patrick & Tracy? No, they sit around congratulating each other until Cunningham shows up at the front door!

    . In Chapter 25, Chief Holder holds a press conference to announce his arrest in the Mason Blaine case. He is asked (on pg. 307)

    if the police theory was still that Mrs. Newman had been the intended victim at and her husband had died by mistake...Tom said no...(tactfully not saying, "I never thought that, that was only the idiot D.A.)

    Uh, no, Tom - that was precisely your theory, as expressed to Kathryn on page 182 - "It's the only theory that explains all the facts." - long before!

    I think it is fair to say that Tom Holder could not get a job with the real-life Princeton, NJ Police Force. But, perhaps Bantam/Dell could hire him to critically proof-read their crime fiction before it gets published!

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