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Book One of The Michael Doyle Chronicles, Committed is the first in a series of mystery novels by John W. Mefford.
When Michael Doyle, a senior financial analyst (I think) for J&W Technology Services, finds a murdered woman's body outside his place of work and a co-worker is arrested and charged for the murder, he is thrust into a world of greed and corruption. The police and media are quashing the story before an investigation really starts and miffed by this, Michael takes it upon himself to make sure the public is made aware of what's going on.
Strucurally, this book is flawed. In any mystery novel, the dead body should appear close to the beginning. Usually within the first three chapters. In Committed, the dead body of Tiffany Chambers, is not discovered until chapter five and then it's several chapters later before Reinaldo Silva is arrested and charged.
For the first half we are taken back and forth between Michael at work, to Michael at home where he struggles to find meaning in his relationship with his long-time girlfriend. Should he marry her or not? At times I wondered if the book was mystery or romance because everytime he is with Marisa, they are admiring each other's bodies and falling into lusty tangles on the bed, on the couch, wherever. The whole time, Michael does not seem all that concerned about his friend being arrested and though he claims he is concerned and needs answers, he does nothing except talking to police to find out what's going on. No conflict, no tension, just staggering through the pages asking why but doing nothing about it. And I really didn't care much about Michael.
The most interesting parts of the story were the chapters from the point of view of the people behind all the corruption. There's mystery because we don't know what they are up to and really want to.
And then there are the characters. Far too many in this book and far too many different points of view. Sometimes it's hard to follow who's who, or whose story it really is. The most interesting characters for me were Tony, the hired thug who actually loved killing so much he would have done it just for the fun of it, and Rosemary Chambers, the mother of the murdered girl. They both come alive on the page. They are believable.
And where do loyalties lie? If I happened upon a dead body and then a friend or colleague was charged for the murder, I would be more motivated to help find the truth to save my friend. Not find answers for a dead person I barely knew. Michael felt that the dead spoke to him, that because of his religious beliefs he owed it to this woman. Nevermind his poor friend sitting in jail wrongfully accused of murder.
But there are some redeeming qualities. Around page 200, of the 286 page book, Michael finally starts doing something. He helps investigate the murder for the newspaper. He begins to uncover secrets, he's threatened, he's put in peril, his girlfriend is threatened and there is a blackmail attempt. He finally has something to lose. There's actually conflict with the person who is supposed to be the protagonist. There's tension.
Of all the independantly published books I've read, or tried to read, Committed is actually one of the better, if not the best. It's obvious the author put a lot of effort into this book. The story is there. It just needed slight restructuring.
Looking forward to reading the next one.