A Review by J. R. Robinson
"Her sight blurred. Where am I? Oh, dear God, help me. Her thoughts, scrambled and confused, kept beating in her head. Am I dead? Maybe I am. Sound vibrated in her ears: the thump of her heart, the rasp of her breath, the crashing behind her. Another root reached out and tripped her. She fell in a heap; her ankle screamed in pain. She gagged with pain but forced herself up again, her mind locked on one goal: to survive."
Looking for a good mystery novel you can safely give that impressionable teenaged daughter, granddaughter or niece? Thanks to Vivian Gilbert Zabel, here’s one: Midnight Hours.
Yes, it has murders, and lots of them. But the crimes are more referenced than they are described, and rather than gore, they are wrapped in a Gordian knot of cyberspace mystery regarding both the killer’s name and gender. She is voluptuous, alluring and manipulative; but he is also clever, skilled and ruthless. She is dead or still alive, and he may be long gone or hiding in plain view. Today’s youth should readily relate to the disembodied and surreal world of computers with which the majority of this mystery is concerned.
Yes, it has cops galore: Martin Rogers, Frank Thomas, Kyle Stone, A.D.A. Lisa Harris, Officer Denise Woods, Captain Jack Young, Deputy L. D. Norris, and Detective Mike Connors to name but a few. But there’s not a hard-nose in the lot. Martin, the central character, is a handicapped Detective Lieutenant living next door to his parents on whom he depends and lavishes respect. He is not an anti-hero. Neither is he an egotistical mental giant, for he limps through the investigative details of the case and ends with only a vague suspicion he has been, once again, outsmarted.
Yes, it has a love story; but it is passionless and a mere half-step beyond platonic. The romance is manifested through little more than hand-holding and lips brushing and, not to worry, culminates in marriage before anything else.
Yes, it has lots of cop talk, for the story is revealed primarily through dialogue. But the language is entirely tame with only the most infrequent profanity, and even then the worse these polite police and kooky killer offer is the rare "damn" or "bitch."
No, neither you nor your granddaughter will predict the plot. In this Mystery (Handicapped/Police Procedural) novel, where, who and how the killer will next strike will be a surprise.
Indicia: Midnight Hours by Vivian Gilbert Zabel; Copyright 2008; 4RV Publishing LLC; Hardback, 215 pages, seventeen chapters, plus a prologue and epilogue; $18.00.