I don't usually like books told from multiple views. They can be confusing if not handled correctly. But "Ashes to Ashes" turned out to be so well crafted I wasn't in the least bit irritated with the view point changes. In fact it opened up a new avenue for the novel's plot.
The novel begins with an arson. Arson investigators discover a murder victim in the burned building and this is how Peter Brichter becomes involved. There is now an arson investigation and a murder investigation. As in a standard mystery, there are several murder suspects that have to be investigated and eliminated to find the real murderer. It also needs to be determined if the arson and murder are related.
"Ashes to Ashes" diverges from the standard mystery in that there are several sub-plots which revolve around various characters. These sub-plots don't detract from the novel and instead give us character-trait motivated characters. This makes the characters seem more "real" and adds to our involvement with them.
The novel is told primarily from Peter Brichter's point of view, but with an occasional switch to (this isn't a spoiler as all the characters know) a "dirty" cop's point of view. The interaction between these two is one of the sub-plots. It gives us a look inside how the fictional police department works. There are other sub-plots that serve to give us insight into the workings of the characters' relationships with each other.
I'd recommend this book for the reader who isn't just interested in car chase, bang-bang mystery novels, but instead wants to get to know and like (or dislike) the characters.
A body is found in “Crazy Dave” Wagner’s appliance store after the store is destroyed by a fire. Detective Peter Brichter is called in because local organized crime is thought to be involved. Brichter consults arson investigator Captain Isaac (Zak) Kader, and other officers in the police department, but no matter how many suspects they interview, they seem no closer to solving the case. Meanwhile, at home, Kori Brichter struggles with the right timing to tell Peter that she’s pregnant, after they agreed they would not have children.
About the Author
Mary Monica Pulver is an incidental Hoosier -- Terre Haute, Indiana, had the hospital closest to her parents' home in Marshall, Illinois. She spent the later part of her childhood and early adult life in Wisconsin, graduating from high school in Milwaukee. She was a journalist in the U.S. Navy for six and a half years (two in London), and later attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Mary Monica sold her first short story, "Pass the Word," to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, in 1983, and has since sold more than two dozen short stories to anthologies and magazines, including some in Germany, England, Italy and France. She has appeared in such anthologies as The Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives, The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits, The Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives, Shakespearean Mysteries, Royal Whodunnits, Unholy Orders, Murder Most Crafty, and Silence of the Loons. Her first mystery novel, Murder at the War, appeared from St. Martin's Press in 1987 and was nominated for an Anthony as Best First Novel. The Unforgiving Minutes and Ashes to Ashes followed in 1988; but Original Sin was sold to Walker, who also presented the fifth book, Show Stopper, in May of 1992. Berkley Diamond brought these mysteries out in paperback. They feature detective Peter Brichter - a cop one reviewer said was "a hardboiled sleuth who's somehow landed in a cozy mystery." In 1998 Mary Monica began writing a new series for Berkley featuring amateur needleworking sleuth Betsy Devonshire. Set in Excelsior, Minnesota, Crewel World came out in March and was followed by 18 other titles in the series. These light and traditional novels are written under the pseudonym Monica Ferris, and all have gone to multiple printings - the first one is in its thirteenth printing! Mary Monica has won a place on national and local best-seller lists, including USA Today and the independent mystery bookstore compilation. She is a member of Sisters in Crime (a national organization that promotes women who write mystery fiction), remains a paid speaker on the life of a mystery author.