crime novel review by Lori

We all know there is an overload of high quality mystery and detective novels out there for anyone who loves the genre. Sometimes, it’s next to impossible to decide what to read next.  My new solution to the problem is too simply read crime novels by Darcia Helle.  I just finished her book Hit List which kept me fascinated from beginning to end. This is an author who should not be missed.

Hit List is the story of a P.I. named Lucianna Martel.  She is everything you would expect in a strong female lead character, but in Darcia’s hands, she is also very human and even vulnerable at times.  Don’t let her softer side fool you; I would trust her to solve the case every time.

litliv1Lucianna employs her Uncle Vinnie as her office manager.  A military veteran and former police officer, Vinnie’s skill set is far more than merely that of a receptionist.

As the story begins, Lucianna is a professional who seems content with her business as well as her independent personal life.  Living alone with her cat, who absolutely exudes personality without ever speaking, there is no sense of her missing out on anything. At least, until Lucianna meets Ian.

Ian McCormick is a contractor/carpenter who doesn’t even know if he needs a P.I., but is willing to give it a shot. His mother, Corinne, has recently gone insane. Non compos mentis! At least she seems to be certifiable and Ian is barely managing. It’s one thing to work for a living but working and caring for a deranged mom is more than Ian can handle.  Going to an investigator feels like a last ditch effort to try to understand where and how his mother’s mind went off the rails, and if it can be restored.  So Ian hires Lucianna to try and get to the bottom of things.

Although we as readers feel the instant attraction between Ian and Lucianna, the author develops the characters with skill and patience, until it feels right for them to connect personally.

hitcovUnraveling the fact that a normal, functioning woman of 48 years has lost her mind in one day is no easy task, but Luciana is determined to break the case.  Early on we discover that even though Corinne really is crazy, there is much more to the story. We want to know what, and who and why.  Darcia does not disappoint.  She unveils the layers of her mystery with considerable skill. Each interlocking piece falls into place at just the right time to keep you reading.  The descriptions are vivid; Darcia is an expert at showing, not telling.  As readers, we are allowed to eavesdrop on what the characters are saying. Their speech is not unlike our own which adds to the overall believability. The imagery can be almost too strong; at times, I felt like closing my eyes during particularly wrenching passages.

The perspective shifts throughout the book from one character to another; even minor characters get their chance to be heard.  Theses shifts in perspective were seamless and felt entirely natural. Needless to say, only a talented writer can pull this off.

Perhaps surprisingly, I felt sympathy, or maybe even empathy, for the villains; they are also human in Darcia’s world.  I wanted them to lose but I felt their pain strongly as their fortunes unwound. Looking inside the head of someone who has lost their marbles is uncomfortable, to say the least, but felt strangely normal in Hit List, at least in the case of Corinne. The reader wants to delve deeply into her mind, but can’t, because she can’t.

Despite her insanity, we can see the person she really is and that person is witty, strong and intelligent. Referring to her psychiatrist as “Dr. Hartley” (AKA Bob Newhart) appears to be just one more piece of crazy on the outside, but becomes hilarious as we strive to get into her head.  We also root for Lucianna and Ian to connect; the author presents us with two realistic and very “human” human beings.

As the story moves forward, the author gives us poignant glimpses into how the lives of these characters came to overlap. The good guys are flawed and the bad guys are not evil incarnate, but they come close, they are really bad. What began as the straight-forward desire to understand what caused Corinne to lose her mind, evolves into a fast-paced, multi-layered plot that keeps you guessing.  The old adage, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you”, is all part of the fun.  Nothing is predictable in this journey of discovery.

I hope Lucianna and Vinnie reappear in future stories, but for now I will see what treasures Darcia has in store for me in her other books. With the ease of ordering books at the touch of a button in our high-tech world, it can be a daunting task to sort out the real gems.  I am so pleased to have found a new (to me) author, and I can’t wait to see what else she has up her very talented sleeves.


Click here to view Darcia Helle’s crime novel, Hit List.

darcDarcia Helle lives in a fictional world with a husband who is sometimes real. Their house is ruled by spoiled dogs and cats and the occasional dust bunny.

Suspense, random blood splatter and mismatched socks consume Darcia’s days. She writes because the characters trespassing through her mind leave her no alternative. Only then are the voices free to haunt someone else’s mind.

Join Darcia in her fictional world:

The characters await you.


6 Responses to Don’t Miss Ms. Darcia Helle’s Scintillating Crime Novel, “Hit List”

  1. Darcia Helle says:

    Thank you, Lori! I’m both thrilled and honored that you enjoyed Hit List!

  2. lise Lasalle says:

    Great review Lori. I am already a fan of darcia’s writing but you sold me on this book.

  3. Rick says:

    Great review, Lori! Your review really piqued my interest in reading Darcia’s latest book.

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