THE MAD HATTER’S SON: An Annie Collins Mystery

by Helen Starbuck

Verdict: The engaging writing style and well-developed characters in THE MAD HATTER’S SON will keep readers interested throughout, and the book boasts a clever title that holds onto its mystery until the end.

IR Rating



IR Rating

Annie Collins works 12-hour shifts as an OR nurse in Denver, Colorado, a job that takes up most of her life. With only her neighbor (Angel) and friend (Maddie) for companionship, she lives a lonely life outside the hospital. When her old college roommate, Libby, (now married to a rich widower) calls with a request to help determine what mysterious illness has afflicted her, Annie wants to decline the job offer. However, memories of their fun times in college and Libby’s exceptional talent as a painter cause her to reluctantly agree.

Annie learns of her friend’s multiple extramarital affairs, which might be related to her illness, but Libby refuses to discuss the matter. After just a couple of weeks, Libby’s lack of cooperation and condescension, combined with her husband’s dismissal of the situation as postpartum depression, lead Annie to quit the assignment prematurely. Her brand new boyfriend (Ian) and Angel help boost her confidence in her decision to steer clear of Libby’s messy affairs.

Minding her own business becomes impossible, however, when one of Libby’s lovers winds up in Annie’s OR nearly dead from a beating. Unsatisfied with the police department’s inability to solve the case quickly, Annie meddles further in the matter, becoming a frequent visitor at the police station with her theories, clues, and circumstantial evidence. Soon other people related to the case start dying, and Annie uses her medical knowledge and connections to put the pieces together before any more deaths occur.

The author, a Colorado nurse, writes about what she knows, which gives the book a feeling of authenticity. Annie’s medical knowledge and hospital experiences help propel the story and keep things interesting. Unfortunately with so few characters involved, the culprit can be determined without much difficulty. In addition, for someone so intelligent, Annie is curiously blindsided by obvious evidence and makes many decisions based on her emotional state, rather than logical conclusions. Even though she’s frustrating at times, she’s likable overall and someone readers will care about.

The writing is crisp and humorous, never allowing itself to get bogged down with too much medical jargon or police procedure. Befitting a book about an artist, the book’s cover design is lovely and boasts a clever title that holds onto its mystery until the end.

~Carol Michaels for IndieReader



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