A solid mystery with some food for thought…
Give Place to Wrath is the first in the short two-book (for now, at least) Roger Viceroy series by Steven C Harms. Wrath was a finalist for a couple of awards when it first came out in 2018, and it has recently been re-issued thanks to a new publisher. And although some of the publicity for the book seems to categorize it as a crime thriller, I found it to be more of a police procedural, with exciting and tense moments for sure, but with strong investigative work that truly carried the story.
From the very first death, courtesy of an exploding hole at a ritzy and exclusive golf course, I enjoyed following along with Viceroy and his crew as they pursued clues throughout the upper Midwest. Although the crime scenes were mostly quite different, a couple of common elements helped the team realize fairly early on that they were on the track of a serial killer. And, of course, their legwork (and brains) eventually helped them figure out the who and why of the murders – leading to a final chaotic chase scene at the inaugural Badger Fest festival. To me, the only classic thriller-ish element was that the governor of Wisconsin, who was deeply committed to Badger Fest, was one of the potential victims, which created some extra tension along the way.
In Wrath, Harms also tackles the difficult subject of discrimination on the dual bases of race and religion, primarily through periodic flashbacks that also help the reader keep up with (or even be just a little bit ahead of) Viceroy’s investigation. In spite of the hints along the way, though, there were a couple of unresolved twists that kept me guessing – and reading – until the end.
All-in-all, Give Place to Wrath was a smooth read and an engaging mystery – I ended up finishing it in only a couple of sessions. I do try to fight “star-flation” a bit by not handing out very many five-star reviews, which means that my four-star review is a solid “read-this-book” recommendation. And I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the series. One warning: Harms does a nice job of dealing with the race/religion subject matter, but there is one rather violent flashback scene that, although well written, does keep Wrath (in my opinion) from being a suitable book for younger readers. And finally, my thanks to the author, Suspense Publishing, and NetGalley for the review copy.