Not a damn to be seen

Pattern of Wounds (A Roland March Mystery) - J. Mark Bertrand

Roland has a chip on his shoulder.  Still devastated by the death of Jessica, his daughter, in an accident committed by a drunk driver, he has made a legal form of revenge his mission. If someone gets off, or fails to intervene when something bad is happening, March works out a way to discover some dirt or malfeasance for which they could be punished.  His job suffers as a result.  He’s also lost whatever faith he had. “ If the Almighty was gonna sit back and let it all happen, somebody had to step up. There’s no such thing in my book as an innocent bystander.”  Charlotte, his wife, enlists their renters, overtly religious types,  to pull him back into the fold, with little success.  


“Carter, listen to me. You mean well, I realize that. But there’s no magic formula or platitude they taught you in seminary that’s going to turn me into one of you. It’s not gonna happen. You have no idea what I’ve seen and what I’ve done. Trust me, if you did, you’d be like me, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”  “I don’t think I’m deceiving myself.” … “People don’t. That’s the whole point. But they go on believing what they’ve been told, they keep voting and buying and praying, they live good lives surrounded by good people in a good world where everything is good. And they think when it’s not good, that’s the aberration. That’s the exception to the rule. But underneath, Carter, if you could turn this city upside down, you’d see it’s all rot down there, all corruption.”


Despite some platitudinous religious overtones (ones that were much less evident in the first book of the series,) there’s a good mystery.  A woman has been found floating in a swimming pool, cut up in a rather bizarre pattern and the murder scene has been choreographed to closely resemble the murder scene in a case March had closed and about which a book had been written.  The photographs in the book of the floating body were identical to the ones of the current case.


As I noted in my review of the first Roland March, I was puzzled by the Christian label attached to it. March has a very cynical view of the world and has little time for the religious, but perhaps some form of over-the-top redemption will take place later in the series.  That would tune me out for sure.  In the meantime it’s a good series although this one can tend to be a bit confusing mixing up characters.  And what’s with the overuse of present tense?