The Cleanest Kill (Detective Jack Murphy #8) - Rick  Reed

Awkward: (def.) when you’re a cop tasked with investigating your incoming chief of police for murder.


This is Detective Jack Murphy’s reality. Thirty-seven years ago, a high school student named Max Day was killed in a cemetery. Among those questioned at the time was Richard Dick, Max’ classmate & sworn enemy. The investigation was led by Richard’s father who was chief at the time & eventually it was shelved.


Jack & partner Liddell Blanchard make up the murder squad in Evansville, Indiana. There’s a new mayor ready to be sworn in & she wants to replace current chief Marlon Pope. Richard is her choice but Max’ remaining family have always maintained his father covered up his involvement. So Jack & Liddell are given their marching orders. Reopen the cold case & clear Richard for the top job.


They’ve barely begun when Max’s sister Reina is attacked in the same cemetery where he died. Evansville is one of those places where memories are long & everyone knows your business. The problem is getting people to talk & the investigation is not winning them many friends around the office either. Then tragedy strikes & they have a fresh body on their hands.


In alternate chapters, we spend time with Richard (known as “Double Dick” around the station) as he tries to quell rumours & mitigate the fallout from the investigation. He’s a pompous ass who’s butted heads with Jack for years & is determined nothing will prevent him from following in his father’s footsteps.


I love procedurals that include cold cases. There’s something appealing about an old mystery finally being solved so I really enjoyed this aspect of the story. It’s a complex & genuine head scratcher as we gradually find out who-dun-what & how it will all play out.


However….as I read, I began to ponder that age old question: how many “dick” jokes are too many? (Discuss amongst yourselves while I give you my take.)  I realize the Richard’s name was chosen for this ongoing gag but it tested my patience, especially in terms of Liddell. He & Jack are 2 experienced detectives staring down a tense investigation that is tearing the town apart. And Liddell’s contribution largely consists of jumping on every opportunity to make a dick joke. Instead of picturing them based on the physical descriptions provided, over time they began to remind me of Beavis & Butt-head (heh heh heh…) IMHO, 2 or 3 times would be enough for readers to share a cheeky grin. After that, it’s just tired.


Which led to an odd situation. I actually preferred the 2 MC’s when they were separated & engaged with other characters. There’s a diverse cast & a couple of standouts for me were departing Chief Marlon Pope & the remarkable Amelia Day, Max’ mother. We also become familiar with our MC’s backgrounds & personal lives.


I must confess I haven’t read the other books in this series so don’t know if the author’s style of humour is a staple.  The cold case element makes for a great story so if you’ve read & enjoyed previous outings this should be right up your alley.