Every human life is supposed to be important. R. G. Belsky’s latest Clare Carlson mystery,
Below the Fold, begins with the death of “a nobody,” the kind of news that falls “below the fold.” Carlson is a veteran TV news reporter, and she knows all about the deaths that matter…and those that don’t.
But Carlson—a TV news director who still has a reporter’s instincts—decides to dig deeper into this seemingly meaningless death. She uncovers mysterious links between the murdered “nobody” and a number of wealthy and influential New York figures. Their names, together with that of the murdered homeless woman, turn up on a list left at a second murder scene. There’s no obvious connection between any of the prominent citizens, but soon there are more murders, and more questions.
Along with a being a compelling murder mystery, Belsky’s novel successfully describes the large and small effects people have on one another, like ripples in a pond, radiating outward, colliding and intersecting with the ripples other lives produce. Those resonances prove key to solving the mystery, so I won’t say more.
Readers who like an engaging, well-crafted mystery with fascinating twists will love Below the Fold. The writing is crisp and economical, and I felt pulled forward into the story as it delved deeper into the mystery. It’s the second in the Clare Carson series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone. Along with Clare herself, the most engaging character is the policeman-with-a-past Scott Manning.
In less skillful hands, murder mystery victims can often feel like mere plot points; but in Below the Fold, Belsky gives the dead back their humanity. Every life, and every passing, has its meaning.
James McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager NoirPolitik thrillers Faithless Elector and Dark Network. The third book, working title Emergency Powers, is coming soon.
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