Review

Don’t Tell a Soul

by David Rosenfelt

When
a successful writer detours from the formula that has established
his popularity, readers may examine the pioneering new title with a
mixture of anticipation and worry. DON’T TELL A SOUL is David
Rosenfelt’s first venture into what can best be called a
stand-alone mystery, a thriller that does not feature criminal
defense attorney Andy Carpenter. In that series Rosenfelt presents
an engaging cast of characters in a fast-paced, witty and
well-written courtroom mystery that is enjoyable and easy to
read.

While DON’T TELL A SOUL shares some of the attributes of the
Andy Carpenter series, it is not quite up to the standard that
those novels have established. Although well written, inventive and
fast-paced, it seems to run into a brick wall somewhere around its
closing 50 pages. It is still a quality work of fiction ---
wonderful for vacation reading --- but its conclusion is somewhat
too abrupt, spoiling what began as an engaging and complex
mystery.

Tim Wallace, a successful New York businessman, and his wife Maggie
are sharing a quiet, romantic journey down the Hudson River on
Tim’s boat. For Maggie it is her first voyage on the vessel,
acquired by Tim during his bachelor days. What begins as an idyllic
afternoon ends in tragedy as the boat explodes, killing Maggie.
Through a quirk of fate that will change his life, Tim escapes
death only because he had jumped into the water to retrieve
Maggie’s hat. His escape seems too fortuitous for police
officers, who focus their attention on Tim as Maggie’s
killer. But suspicion is not hard evidence, and no charges are
brought against him.

Several months later, on New Year’s Eve, Tim’s friends
encourage him to end his mourning period and join them at a local
tavern to celebrate the new year. While at the bar, a man sits next
to him and the ensuing conversation makes his life even more
foreboding. “Can you keep a secret? A really big one?”
Before Tim can respond, the stranger confesses to a month-old
murder and even offers him specific details. As he walks away the
stranger warns him, “Now it’s your
problem.”

The conversation, duly reported to law enforcement, changes Tim in
their eyes from a man who they think murdered his wife to a serial
killer who they believe may be a terrorist plotting destruction to
the government of the United States. While he professes his
innocence, piece by piece and bit by bit evidence mounts against
him. Tim is forced to become a fugitive as he searches to discover
how and why someone is framing him for a crime he did not
commit.

DON’T TELL A SOUL has a wide range of the standard characters
who readers might expect in a mystery novel of this nature: the
relentless police detective, certain that a guilty man is going
free, the cynical criminal defense lawyer for whom guilt or
innocence is not a consideration, and finally the romantic interest
for Wallace, who attempts to help him overcome the tragedy that has
befallen him and in so doing creates danger for her own well-being.
While they are predictable, Rosenfelt has the ability to move their
lives and the plot along with snappy dialogue and many byzantine
plot twists.

Perhaps it is unfair to compare DON’T TELL A SOUL to the Andy
Carpenter series. Rosenfelt’s stand-alone effort is worth
reading and establishes him as a mystery stylist who readers can
enjoy, whether the character is an old friend or a new
acquaintance.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on January 21, 2011

Don’t Tell a Soul
by David Rosenfelt

  • Publication Date: June 24, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312373953
  • ISBN-13: 9780312373955