Release Date: Feb 27, 2018
Series: Mattie Winston
Mattie Winston and her new husband Steve Hurley get called to a crime scene in the middle of the night. Mattie is an investigator for the medical examiner’s office in Sorenson, Wisconsin and Steve is a homicide detective. They must examine the bodies of Meredith Lansing and Craig Knowlton, found in a room of a sleazy motel, even though each is married to someone else. All signs point to Craig murdering Meredith and then killing himself. However, as Maggie, Steve, and their teams gather more evidence, it looks like both Craig and Meredith are victims of murder, and Maggie and Steve are determined to solve this increasingly complex case.
Dead Calm is the ninth Mattie Winston mystery, but the first I’ve read. Chapter one gives the basic background about Mattie and Steve and their lives together and also events that happened before they were a couple. This gives new readers plenty of information to allow them to follow the main plot in the first part of the book. Mattie and Steve are each independent, but work together to take care of their sometimes hard to deal with toddler. They also make a great investigative team and their skills complement each other. I really enjoyed seeing the evidence being gathered in this case and how it revealed it wasn’t as straightforward as it originally seemed.
As the book progresses, the focus of the book changed from this double-murder to older, more complex cases, some dating back thirty years. I assume at least part of these cases was discussed in more detail in prior books, as well as Mattie’s complicated history with her estranged father. There was also a side story of unusual bones being found where Mattie and Steve had just broken ground to build a new how. I was able to follow all of these other plotlines, but the prior events weren’t as interesting to me as the current case. As more and more of the book begins to revolve around these other crimes, I became less interested in what would happen next. Readers who have read the prior books may have been more invested in this storyline and therefore found it more entertaining than I did.
The last few chapters pick up as both the new and the old cases are wrapped up, with the reluctant help of Mattie’s ex-husband, as well as an up-and-coming reporter Mattie has taken under her wing. The ending lives up to the promise of the book’s opening chapters. It’s unfortunate the middle of the book doesn’t have the same easy flow and fast pace, but I would read other books in the series since Maggie and Steve are easy to like.