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November 23, 2021

Unknown Assailant by J.L. Doucette ~ a Review

by MK French

Dr. Pepper Hunt and Detective Beau Antelope are called in to investigate a murder/suicide taking place on a family ranch in Farson, Wyoming. As they continue to uncover clues regarding the event, they find a legacy of trauma.

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Unknown Assailant
November 2021; She Writes Press; 978-1647422196
ebook, print (304 pages); thriller

Unknown Assailant
is the third book of the Dr. Pepper Hunt series, and I haven’t read the first two. She’s a forensic psychologist, and the prologue has her doing a forensic report on Bella Sanderson prior to her revising her will. Then the story opens with the murder at the Sanderson home. We had teases of trauma in the very short summary of Bella’s personal history, and it all goes downhill from there. There are difficulties between Bella’s children, and her grandchildren were no angels, either. Interviewing surviving members of the family and their associates reveals the foibles that lead to resentment and anger. This of course leads to multiple people that could have had motive if it was a double homicide and not a murder/suicide after all. Solving this puzzle and unraveling the entire family’s trauma history takes up the bulk of the book.

Pepper’s chapters are told in first person whereas Beau’s and others’ are told in third. I’m not sure why the difference, but it gives an emotional distance from Beau. Maybe it’s intentional; he certainly doesn’t like or want romantic or emotional entanglements, a stance that’s understandable given his line of work. I really have no sense of him as a person, and he’s simply the detective asking questions. I have more of a sense of Pepper in her POV chapters, whereas the rest of the novel has a punchy, immediate feel as if the dialogue is a transcript of an interview. I do feel sorry for the grandchildren in this family, as they’re left behind and have no idea about all the secrets from generations before, yet are being affected by them. The parental generation was too absorbed in their own problems to notice, which then set up the awful circumstances for the book. All of the threads are neatly tied together, and justice is finally done.

Buy Unknown Assailant at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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