Monday, January 18, 2016

REVIEW: Eyewitness by Carolann Camillo and Phyllis Humphrey #Mystery

The big break Toni Abbott longed for has finally arrived. She has been cast as the soap opera villainess everyone loves to hate, and because of her, ratings are soaring. Then her lucky streak runs out. During a late-night photo session, Craig, the photographer, is shot to death. In the confusion Toni hits her head and is knocked unconscious, and when she awakes, she can’t recall what happened. If she could regain her memory, could she identify the killer? Apparently the killer thinks so, because soon after the incident, Toni hears someone breaking in to her apartment and barely escapes. Too bad the police believe she is somehow responsible for Craig’s murder. It doesn’t help that her character on the show is so convincingly nasty and conniving. Was the target really Craig, or did the killer aim for Toni and miss? Craig was an unscrupulous womanizer. Any number of people might have wanted him dead, including a career criminal he helped convict, his business partner, his wife, and his mistress. Despite her winning personality, Toni has her share of enemies, among them an older actress jealous of her success and the show’s director, whose animosity baffles her. With the help of Michael Benedict, a handsome young criminal lawyer, Toni sets out to awaken her dormant memory and unmask the killer. Meanwhile the character she plays, Alexandra, is in a coma, fighting for her life. The writers will decide Alexandra’s fate, but Toni must save herself.

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RATING: 4 Stars 
Toni Abbott is building her acting career on a soap opera, and has become extremely popular, although her character is as much villainess as heroine.  Her popularity may please the producers and the network, but not all of the cast members, some of whom want the director to kill off her character.  Toni is thinking about this one evening, when she is working with a photographer on a publicity shots, but suddenly she is shockingly interrupted.  The photographer is shot, and while trying to save herself, Toni is knocked out.  When she regains consciousness, she cannot remember anything about the murder.

From this vivid opening, ‘Eyewitness’ proceeds to grow as an intriguing mystery, with possible suspects turning up all over the place – and as far as the police are concerned, Toni is definitely one of them.  Also, because of the character she portrays on the show, a lot of viewers blame her, too.  A top criminal attorney, Michael Benedict, takes her case, and ends up protecting her physically as well as legally.  The puzzles weave back and forth, through incidents on the set, her character’s storyline, the interactions between many of the show’s performers – and their off-screen family and friends.  As the circumstances become more and more complicated, Michael and Toni predictably come closer together.  They face an array of unpleasant people, jealous of Toni and eager to build their own stature by trampling on her, and a variety of individuals engaged in criminal activities related to other aspects of show business. 

There are few quiet or slow parts to this story, with new suspects cropping up all the time, along with new possible motives.  Mystery readers are not likely to get bored, nor will you easily figure out who the murderer is.  Oh, you’ll find a few favorite suspects, but you will probably still be surprised.  Of course, if you’re at all like me, when reading a murder mystery, you want to be surprised, and I doubt you’ll be badly disappointed.

Actually, the only problem I had with ‘Eyewitness’ was having too many possible explanations!  I got a bit tired of how the list of suspects just kept growing, leaving some small questions unanswered, while you’re trying to sort out all the elements.  Still, I enjoyed reading the book; I liked getting to know Toni and Michael; the intrigue was nicely portrayed, for the most part, and I enjoyed the final surprise.  I recommend the book to most romantic murder mystery fans, and give it 4 stars.

I am grateful for the reviewer’s copy I was given.

Reviewed by: Roberta

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