It can be quite the challenge for writers to create an intriguing murder mystery. Whether that story is a standalone or part of a series, writers must maintain the mystery behind the murder(s) being investigated while keeping readers intrigued and not confused by the bread crumb trail of clues offered for them to follow. One writer has published the first novel of her new Nick Noelle Mystery series through the ever-growing online publisher Inkshares, offering an intriguing introduction to her series through Under a Cloud of Rain.
During Houston’s hot and humid summer of 1970, the young and beautiful daughters of Houston’s richest families are being murdered one after another. Each murder is committed during terrible storms and the downpours wash away any evidence that could point to the killer. Detective Nick Noelle, along with his young new partner Juan Lopez, are assigned to the case to find the killer who is on par with Jack the Ripper on how he or she mutilates the young victims. One young lady remains from the clique of deceased girls and may be the only one who can help the detectives before the killer strikes again at the next terrible storm.
Writer A. R. Baumann has experience when it comes to writing and it most certainly shows in the first novel in her mystery series. Baumann is a master of setting up a crime scene and leading readers to believe one thing when the truth is actually something else entirely. This aspect of the story shines with her characters. Each character is set up beautifully and Baumann writes her story in a way where readers will suspect one particular character is the killer, but then will be lead to suspect another character a few chapters later. Readers will also find themselves growing quite found of the main detective, Nick Noelle, for how realistic he appears and how, beneath his gruff demeanor, he truly wants to help.
To help with the setup of her story, Baumann uses an excellent amount of descriptive detail to paint a very vivid picture within the minds of her readers. Baumann’s strength lies in not telling the reader exactly where the characters are, but rather what the characters are experiencing: what they are seeing, tasting, hearing, etc. Granted, the images readers will imagine in their minds will be rather morbid at times, but it just adds to the suspense of the story. Being born in Houston herself, Baumann does an excellent job of not only relaying the lifestyle and dialog of those who live in the South, but also of how people may have lived in 1970.
Under a Cloud of Rain is a good introduction to an intriguing new mystery series. Once past a somewhat slow beginning, Baumann succeeds in keeping her readers’ attention throughout her story with an excellent setup of characters and setting as well as an amazing use of descriptive detail to paint vivid images within the imagination. Upon reaching the conclusion, readers may not be as satisfied with how Under a Cloud of Rain ends. This is not due to the plot being predictable for Baumann succeeds in staying away from the clichés murder mysteries can contain, but rather to the ending seeming rushed. Whether readers see the ending being that way or not, Baumann’s introduction to her Nick Noelle Mystery series proves to be very enticing and will keep readers guessing, leading them down a bread crumb trail they will not wish to stop following until they have reached the end.