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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
There is usually something in a person’s life that defines their future. Something they can’t let go of. It can be a good thing, or a bad thing, or something that haunts the person. It’s all part of the memories that create and define who we are. There is a first for just about everything and that first is usually unforgettable in so many ways. For New York City’s Chief Matson, it was a case in the 1950s, at the beginning of his career, that defined his future. Women were being murdered. Prostitutes. And their deaths were being laid out like religious tableaux portraying biblical scenes from the New Testament, a Passion of Christ being portrayed in reverse. At first, it appeared to be merely gruesome murders, as had been the Ripper murders in London a century earlier. But Matson knew better. And now the murderer he had apprehended all those years earlier was having his case up for review yet again. With degrees in psychology and years of studying the evil that pushes someone to commit such heinous crimes, Matson knew that this man, this serial killer, should never be set free. For as long as he lived, Matson would ensure that this murderer was kept off his streets.
Pablo Omar Zaragoza and Susan Giffin’s mystery novel, Matson’s Case No. 1, leads the reader through an horrific murder plot with both speed and efficiency. The plot develops steadily with leads and tangents pulling the reader into the case as it intensifies and unravels. The sub-plot provides another case, one which many non-white people have had to endure and circumnavigate well into the twenty-first century. Matson, the main character, has special skills and an intelligence that helps him unravel the mystery behind these murders. But his skills and talent and intelligence are frequently being downplayed and sneered at by those who only see him as a black man. He is often called offensive words. He rises above these callous insults and proves his worth through hard work and education, and benefiting from a mentor who has his best interests at heart. A good murder mystery, but also a good social issues story.