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Book Review: The Charming Man: A Q.C. Davis Novel

The Charming Man: A Q.C. Davis Novel. Lisa Lilly. Spiny Woman LLC, December 18, 2018, Trade Paperback and E-book, 450 pages.

Reviewed by R. H. King, Jr.

A college girl goes missing. Because she has a possible visa issue that could lead to her deportation, no one calls the police. Instead, a friend asks Quille Davis—an actress-turned-lawyer—to help find the missing girl. Both the missing girl and the friend are residents of a run-down apartment complex on the Chicago River, so Quille’s search begins there. But an early-season blizzard of epic proportions engulfs the city and traps all the residents—including Quille—in the complex. As her search continues, dead bodies start piling up, raising the possibility that the murders may be related to the missing girl. Because of the blizzard, the police are unable to assist, leaving Quille and her friends alone in their quest to find the missing girl and killer.

The Charming Man is the second in a series of Quille Davis “who-done-its.”  I have not read the first installment of the series, but I believe that the author of a series has a responsibility to write each installment so that it can stand alone, while providing enough backstory to give the reader sufficient understanding of the characters’ motivations. Lisa Lilly is the author of another successful four-book supernatural thriller series, The Awakening (which I recommend), so it is not surprising that she fulfills this responsibility with flying colors. Lilly provides the reader enough of Quille’s backstory to understand why she finds herself called upon to investigate this missing person’s whereabouts, as well as her methods.

Unlike Lilly’s prior series, which was primarily premise driven, The Charming Man is a classic murder mystery. In that genre, the successful author must create enough potential credible suspects to keep the reader guessing about the real murderer. Also, she needs to keep the story moving. Here, too, Lilly comes through with flying colors. Even some of the eventual murder victims were themselves suspects in my mind (before their deaths), and the reader is kept guessing until the end regarding the identity of the murderer and the motivations of both the missing girl and the murderer. My one small complaint is that the story concluded more quickly than I would have liked! She had me on the hook and could have played me for even longer than she did.

Sometimes self-published books suffer from editorial inattention and numerous typographical or grammatical errors. The Charming Man has none of these shortcomings. It is a skillfully crafted book, and Lilly's writing style is economical and easy to read. 

Fans of the murder mystery will find much to like in The Charming Man.  


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