Book Review: The Cover Story by Deb Richardson-Moore

Updated December 22, 2017
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Book Review: The Cover Story by Deb Richardson-Moore

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A fatal crash involving two college students heading home for the holidays seems like an unfortunate accident. But when the surviving girl wakens, she tells a curious story of the vehicle that forced them off the road – an old-fashioned, 1950s-style hearse. Reporter Branigan Powers delves into the mystery that takes her to the college campus, and leads her into dangerous fraternity and sorority pledge parties. Reunited with the homeless Malachi Martin, who is so adept at seeing what isn’t there, rather than what is, Branigan must uncover what is really going on at the college, before other students are put in danger.

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The Cover Story
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So this is the second novel from mystery writer Deb Richardson-Moore in the Branigan Powers series and I really enjoyed this. Having read "The Cantaloupe Thief" back in June last year, I was keen to read this novel as I really enjoyed that story. Branigan Powers is a newspaper reporter for a newspaper called the 'Grambling Rambler' she also happens to be very good friends with one of the local ministers who runs a homeless shelter. When the minister's daughter gets run off the road on her way back from college for the Christmas holidays, and her travelling companion is killed in the crash, Branigan Powers starts to look into the possibility that this was not an accident but a deliberate attempt to hurt or even kill. As Charlie Delaney, the driver, starts to wake up she remembers details that make this look more deliberate, they were run off the road by a 1950's hearse!

With the minister's daughter being much loved in the homeless community, it isn't long before Malachi gets involved. He is a homeless man, much respected on the street and he helped Branigan with the previous incidents the year before (the ones in The Cantaloupe Thief). There is an interesting dynamic in this novel that works quite well and is held in balance, there are three people investigating this crime. The police officer, Branigan and Malachi, obviously the police and Branigan have to be careful about how they proceed, but Malachi knows that being homeless gives him a certain amount of invisibility to conduct himself how he pleases, he also has the knack to see what isn't there as well as what is.

There is a very real feel to this story, the characters are very believable, they feel like they have already been worn-in. Of course I am reading this and familiar with what had gone before, but I think apart from the odd reference back to the first story anyone would be able to pick up the book and feel comfortable with the characters. No-one seems particularly out of place or out of character. Branigan may be a little hands-on for a modern reporter, but that is because the case is personal. There is enough real life though to ground the character, for example there is a lot of discussion about the viability of print and the reduced staff that run the paper.

Again, it is Malachi's investigations that steal the show, although they are not entirely legal, they play a pivotal part in bringing the story to it's conclusion. I have to say I was playing the guessing game about who was responsible all the way through, there were a fair-few red-herrings thrown in, as well as the ones that are too obvious, but then you get the sneaky suspicion that perhaps it could have been them, just not how it appeared. Ultimately this is incredibly well plotted, the story moves forward well, occasionally taking a side-step to mislead you a little. It's an easy to read story, I settled into it comfortably and once it got going properly I found it difficult to put down!

I still want more Branigan Powers mysteries and I think there are more coming. Deb is talented at stringing a mystery together and although there were some familiar plot points, it didn't feel like something that I had read before in another series, or seen on TV. So well done, it's a great read, but I would really recommend that you pick up both books "The Cantaloupe Thief" and "The Cover Story" because I am sure you will enjoy them.

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