Governor’s Island Murders, Jerry McGinleyMystery/Thriller, 347 pages
July 10, 2023, Lake City Lights
Reviewed by Cayce Osborne
The Madison setting makes an excellent backdrop for Governor’s Island Murders, a well-paced procedural mystery starring Madison Police Officer Shea Sommers. Readers of past books by McGinley will recognize Shea—as well as references to her old partner Pat Donegal—but new readers shouldn’t worry. This was my first book by McGinley, and I was put at ease immediately with a quick recap and introduction to Shea’s new adventure. When we catch up with Shea she is drinking too much and adrift in her career. She accepts an invitation from her old Madison Police colleague to come back to the force after a hiatus spent teaching. From there the action takes off. Shea and her private investigator colleague Radovan Hawks are assigned to a case involving a body that has washed up on Governor’s Island, a 60-acre natural area on Madison’s Lake Mendota. On the trail of a popular local news anchor who has vanished, Shea encounters a shady investor, distraught family members, a suspicious graduate student, some nervous dancers, a mysterious photographer, an angry militia, and other interesting suspects. The diverse, compelling cast of characters really shines here, enhancing the story with their personal struggles, unique talents, and hidden pasts.
One of the most engaging aspects of this novel was evident from the very beginning: as a reader, I always had the sense that I was in good hands. McGinley doles out facts, clues, and matters of police procedure at a comforting pace. At a time when out-of-the-blue twists and wild plot turns are popular in publishing, this book bucks trends in the best way. It reads like a ride-along with Officer Sommers as she chases an intricate mystery. Her frustrations and personal challenges only enliven the experience. In the end, all the seemingly disparate plot threads weave together into a satisfying conclusion. Readers who enjoy police procedurals, mysterious disappearances, Midwest settings, and unconventional law enforcement partnerships will enjoy Governor’s Island Murders as much as I did.
Reviewer Bio: Cayce Osborne is a writer and graphic designer from Madison, Wisconsin. Her debut mystery novel, I Know What You Did, is out now.
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