Review

Too Many Murders: A Carmine Delmonico Novel

by Colleen McCullough

Holloman, Connecticut is rarely beset with hard crime cases in
1967, but April 3rd changes this small city forever. Twelve
seemingly unrelated murders occur on that fateful day. Chief of
detectives Carmine Delmonico and his unit are swimming in crime
scene evidence, lengthy survivor interview files, and few if any
suspects. The mayor and the media are clamoring for solutions to
these gruesome deaths.

Carmine is tough but suave, and his Italian background and
longtime residence in the community have garnered him respect in
his hometown. He’s taken aback by the diversity of the crimes
that have just occurred. A large rusty bear trap has clamped the
life from a college student at the local Chubb University. A young
mother’s life has been snuffed in her own home. A college
administrator has been poisoned by the tea he drank while
conferencing with students. A professor’s wife has
inadvertently served her husband poisoned juice for breakfast. The
wealthy CEO of Holloman’s largest employer, Cornucopia, has
been sexually brutalized, drugged and killed. Puzzling yet is the
rape and murder of a well-known black prostitute.

Carmine’s staff is stressed by the workload. Two of his
detectives are in line for a promotion, and each would benefit from
a rapid closure to these cases. His right-hand assistant, Delia
Carstairs, is the overqualified but enthusiastic niece of the local
police commissioner.

Colleen McCullough’s long list of successful books began
with her family saga, THE THORN BIRDS, and continues with a
biography and crime novels that showcase her outstanding writing
talents. Her characters become reality on the page. Carmine is
portrayed as a handsome, fairly tall man with Mediterranean
features whose family background strengthens his personality. His
wife, Desdemona, in contrast, stands more than six-feet tall with
large hands and feet, and is English by birth. She plays a part in
Carmine’s case problems when the mysterious perpetrator
launches an attack on their family.

McCullough skillfully introduces secondary characters important
to the story. The detectives split interview responsibilities for
the surviving spouses and family members. The murder of Desmond
Skeps, Cornucopia’s CEO, presents a series of difficult
questions to answer. The company has been the subject of an FBI
investigation because highly secret plans have been leaked to the
Russians for nearly 10 years, and someone in the company has been
the source of that leak. At this point, McCullough brings in FBI
special agent Ted Kelly to stick as a thorn in Carmine’s
side. Banter between the two law enforcement officers is congenial
but deadly serious when territories are overstepped. Evidence
gathered by both agencies is closely guarded and begrudgingly
shared.

To complicate matters further for Carmine, his ex-wife’s
soon-to-be-ex-husband arrives in town with a startling
announcement. Myron, a successful movie mogul, has fallen for a new
love, Erica Davenport, executive officer at Cornucopia and former
close friend of the murdered CEO. Myron is infatuated and plans a
gala to announce their engagement. Carmine is duly unimpressed. His
reservations about Erica stem from his detective’s nose for
the extraordinary. She strikes him as too cold and business-minded
to marry his gentlemanly friend.

Carmine’s investigation hits bumps and wrong turns, but
his gut tells him that 12 murders in one day must be connected,
although common sense steers otherwise. With the FBI hanging on his
coattails, he leans toward the possibility that one monster
engineered or committed all the slayings. Espionage at Cornucopia
is the FBI’s aim, while Carmine’s commitment is to
solve the murders.

Colleen McCullough has written a suspenseful crime story in TOO
MANY MURDERS, a sequel to ON, OFF. The reader turns each page with
promise of new information on the next. Her characters seem real,
with traits relevant to the time period chosen. Even at the end of
the novel, the crimes are solved but she leaves us with a faint
hint that closure is not final. I look forward to reading more
books from this talented author.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 23, 2011

Too Many Murders: A Carmine Delmonico Novel
by Colleen McCullough

  • Publication Date: December 1, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 1439177473
  • ISBN-13: 9781439177471