Review: Schaffhausen spins a twisty tale at a torrid pace

“Every Waking Hour,” by Joanna Schaffhausen (Minotaur)

The push-pull relationship between Boston police detective Ellery Hathaway and FBI Agent Reed Markham took a big leap last year in “All the Best Lies,” the third book in Joanna Schaffhausen’s compelling series of crime novels. Now, in “Every Waking Hour,” the world seems determined to pull the new lovers apart.

Reed rescued Ellery from serial killer years ago, when she was just a teenager, so their mutual attraction has been fraught with complications from the start.

And now?

Reed’s ex-wife Sarit disapproves of Ellery. Still bitter about their divorce, Sarit threatens to stop him from seeing his toddler daughter unless he breaks off the relationship.

Ellery’s teenage half-sister, a runaway from the father who abandoned Ellery and her mother years ago, shows up and moves in.

And Ellery, whose kidnapping was such a huge story that journalists never lost interest in her, is horrified when a news photographer catches the lovers in a tender moment and makes their relationship public.

Meanwhile, a 12-year-old girl has been kidnapped, battering Ellery with horrible memories of her own ordeal that are never far from the surface.

The obvious suspect is the nanny who was supposed to be watching over the child. However, Ellery and Reed soon discover that the girl’s mother’s first child was murdered years ago when he was also 12 years old.

That the crime was never solved. Might the two cases be connected? The result is a tension-filled investigation filled with twists that readers are unlikely to see coming.

Though not a particularly stylish writer, Schaffhausen spins her yarn with clear, concise prose that keeps the plot moving at a torrid pace. But as usual in this series, the most compelling part of her story is the fragile relationship between the protagonists.

Can it – and even should it – survive what the world keeps throwing at them?


Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”

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