Found by H. Terrell Griffin

The small town of Longboat Key, Florida is a pretty quiet place. While many tourists visit in the summer, winter sees only a few residents and retirees who are looking to trade the bitter cold of their home towns for the Key's tropical climate. Matt Royal is one of the town's permanent residents. He's a middle-aged,  "semi-retired" lawyer who gave up his prominent career in a large Florida city to settle down in the quiet Longboat Key. He stays busy doing small law jobs for the locals and assisting his friend, Chief of Police Bill Lester, in investigating crimes.

Matt and J.D. Duncan, a Longboat P.D. detective who Matt proudly claims as his "sweetie", are enjoying a quiet morning at Matt's bungalow when J.D. receives a disturbing text message. The message contains an image of J.D.'s college friend Katie Fredrickson. In the image, Katie looks pretty normal and is clutching a copy of the newspaper from that day. Written on the paper are the words "Good Morning Jed", referring to the nickname Katie used for her friend J.D. There's only one problem . . . Katie has been dead for almost a year!

The couple witnesses the start of another case during J.D.'s lunch break. The two watch as police chase a car off the side of a drawbridge, killing the driver. Soon, J.D's phone is ringing, calling her to the scene of a crime. It turns out that the driver involved in that fatal high-speed police chase was fleeing a condo parking lot, where he had just shot an elderly man at close range. The man, a WWII vet, was showing his neighbor some pictures from the 1940's. As J.D. interviews the neighbor and another friend of the victim, she learns that he was on his way to meet with a lawyer. That lawyer was none other that Matt Royal.

The Matt Royal Series by author H. Terrell Griffin has been a consistently enjoyable read over the course of its seven novels. Griffin always injects his love of Florida and the people who live there through witty observations about the city and equally amusing characters. Over the course of the series, readers have grown attached to Matt Royal and his crime fighting band of friends. This, combined with short chapters and unique mysteries, have made the previous installments quick and engaging reads.

The consistent excellence of the series thus far has left me with a decidedly mixed reaction to this latest installment. The eighth entry in the series contains many of the above mentioned elements that readers have come to expect. Unfortunately, the plot becomes so full, that it is difficult to keep each element of the story clear. The Matt Royal books have always required some suspension of disbelief, but Found pushes that idea to the limit. As the characters investigate murder, a missing person, secrets from a WWII submarine, police corruption, and a local mafia drug ring, the plot becomes convoluted and difficult to follow. A third of the way through, flashbacks to WWII are injected amidst the present day narrative, further diluting the focus of the novel. To be fair, the information that is given during these flashbacks is vital to understanding the conclusion, and Griffin does an excellent job making a satisfying end to all of the seemingly disparate plot points. Still, the journey to this resolution requires a good bit of patience.

Plot issues aside, Griffin's deeply drawn characters help to keep the weary reader invested in the story. Matt Royal is a likable everyman who readers are sure to get behind. Griffin explores the relationship between Matt and his equally strong willed girlfriend J.D. as the two come to terms with the complexities of their commitment. Matt operates on a thin line between what is legally acceptable and morally just. This creates tension between him and his law obligated better half. Griffin writes of these issues with a skillful delicacy that brings a much needed reality to the outlandish world he has created. While this is not the strongest installment in the usually stellar series, Found gets enough right to successfully warrant any future Matt Royal novels.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and GoodReads.

(2015, 24)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 26, 2015 and is filed under ,,,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

One Response to “Found by H. Terrell Griffin”

  1. I always like a novel where there seems to be an inner battle between the right and wrong side of things. It can be hard for people in the police or in authoritative positions because sometimes they could get away with whatever means they need to find the right answer. It can be hard to always stay legally/morally right. That inner debate intrigues me here.


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