Identity Crisis – by Vicki Zell – Review

Quite a well-done murder mystery that won’t let your anxious nerves rest until the end

Vicki is no doubt a very articulate writer who knows what to tell and when. The writer in her manages to grab the reader’s interest right from the start through various means. From the state of mind of Dr.Jameson just before his murder:

“He stopped in front of the courthouse steps, feeling rather foolish for letting his mind get the better of him. After all, he was supposed to be the rational one, the one who remains calm in a crisis. His profession demanded it of him. How would it look, he, a professor of psychology, being so irrational?”

To the almost poetic description of the actual murder:

” The streetlight overhead reflected a mask of light from the steel blade across those unmistakable green eyes; eyes Dr. Jameson knew all too well. Mesmerized by these eyes, Dr. Jameson lay frozen, accepting the steel blade entering his body over and over, again and again.”

Vicki has nailed the mystery genre quite well. When you read her story you know how much in control of the narrative and the atmosphere she is; never for once has she let either the gruesome atmosphere or the dark narrative get the better of her. The atmosphere of the entire book is full of suspense; like for example, this telephone exchange between Darlene and the doctor:

“”Miss Ward, I have something important to discuss with you. I was hoping you could come by my home, say around eight-thirty this evening?”

“Should I bring my sister along?” asked Darlene.

“No. No, that isn’t necessary,” said Dr. Jameson very surely.

“Couldn’t you just tell me over the phone what this is all about?” Darlene was hoping he’d tell her something.

A moment of silence came over the phone.”

The characters are portrayed so well that they remain etched in your memory long after you have finished reading the book. The character of the murdered victim, the characters of the twin sisters, etc., are all delineated in fine details. There is plenty of red herring in the book: at times you wonder which of the two sisters could be the actual killer (like Doreen, you also wonder if “it was possible that the woman Flo was talking about was Darlene. If it was, then who was the other woman? And why wouldn’t Darlene mention to her she’d gone upstate? “), but sorry to disappoint you, you won’t find the actual answer until the very end. Both the state of mind of Darlene, as well as her relationship with her sister are described in minute detail through the use of atmosphere and dialogs:

“Darlene stood and made her way across the room to the vanity dresser and stood at the mirror staring at her reflection. Her eyes looked dark and hollow. She hadn’t had a good night’s sleep since the accident.

“Are you all right?” Doreen asked Darlene, concerned for her sister’s well-being.

Darlene could see Doreen’s reflection in the mirror. “I’m fine. It’s you I’m worried about.””

Indeed, the dialogs could not have been more apt, given the characters and the situation they find themselves in! The sad ending however, left me teary-eyed (I smell a sequel there, btw).

The only downside is that at times the author mentions the names of the characters so often (instead of using more pronouns) that it tends to get repetitive and tedious. Other than that, I could not find any other flaw in the book.

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