No Marriages in Heaven

Fiction - Crime
204 Pages
Reviewed on 07/05/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I am a retired professor of English, who specialized in teaching Shakespeare at Murray State University. (I still write reviews for THE SHAKESPEARE NEWSLETTER.) Upon retiring, I devoted myself to writing. I' written nonfiction books, one on Eliot Ness, one on Shakespeare. But my greatest love is writing novels. I have an unruly muse and confine myself to no one genre, My books generally fall into such categories as southern gothic, science fiction , humorous fantasy, horror, satire. I never thought I'd write a detective novel; the plot by definition had to be complicated. But since two of my novels THE MADONNA OF SHADOWS AND DARKNESS and THE PLAYER GODS use the hard-boiled format in supernatural and eerie genres, I former colleague and current galley reader, Helen Roulston challenged me to write a detective novel. Certian ideas began emerging in my mind; I playe around with them, NO MARRIAGES IN HEAVEN popped into my mind. I hope you enjoy it.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Deborah Lloyd for Readers' Favorite

Forty-eight-year-old Earl Hollo, a private investigator in Louisville, KY, had never recovered from a death that occurred five years earlier. The victim was his fiancée Maggie Middleton, and the death was determined to be an accidental shooting by a deer hunter. Earl’s mother, with whom he lived, frequently encouraged him to move on with his life. Maggie’s twin brother, Howie, the owner of a local cemetery, contacted Earl and asked him to come in later that day. Howie had received a mysterious letter so he hired Earl to follow the directions in the letter and solve the mystery of Maggie’s death. In No Marriages in Heaven by Kenneth Tucker, an intriguing story unfolds.

The story involves many compelling characters. Earl, a self-described gumshoe who’s usually hired to follow an unfaithful spouse, is a complex man. His recitation of literature and poetry expressed the depth of his emotions. The relationship with his mother and his wrestling with the complicated aspects of his and Maggie’s relationship lend depth to his personality. Likewise, the true nature of Howie, the unknown reasons for Dr. Feltham’s choices, the wily Velma, and other characters are carefully delineated throughout the plot. These introspective meanderings are well-balanced with action scenes such as organized crime threats and shootings. The book is fast-paced and engages the reader from the first page to the last. There are many twists and turns, with the whodunit reserved for the ending. Author Kenneth Tucker has crafted a gripping mystery in No Marriage in Heaven – a riveting read!

Lit Amri

“But the question remains: why would anyone want to murder Maggie?” In No Marriages in Heaven by Kenneth Tucker, private eye Earl Hollo lost Maggie Middleton, his lover, in an accidental shooting five years ago. However, her estranged twin brother, Howie, believes that the shooting was intentional, and hires the 48-year-old P.I. to investigate her death. Earl is reluctant, believing he lacks the skill to investigate a ‘murder’ case and still believes that it was an accidental shooting. Nonetheless, he has his suspicions and Howie, being an Executive Funeral Director of one of Louisville’s oldest and largest cemeteries, pays good money. The investigation leads Earl to unexpected paths and uneasy truths; he is starting to doubt that he knew who Maggie really was, especially when the mob is involved.

Engaging from start to finish, the prose has a subtle flair that gives the narrative a classic sleuth nuance. There were times I forgot that Kenneth Tucker's No Marriages in Heaven was set in the 21st century and not in the 1940s or '50s. Protagonist Earl is something of a poetry enthusiast; there are well-known poems included which should please readers who’re also poetry lovers. Earl is easy to root for as he has no problems in admitting his flaws either to himself or others; a humble but tough and capable 'gumshoe'. He’s probably not the most secretive P.I. that I’ve ever read about. I was surprised with some info that he chose to disclose to a few characters, including his mother. I had fun trying to connect the dots and avoid red herrings but was ultimately blindsided by the story's denouement. Simply put, a commendable and entertaining sleuth story.

K.C. Finn

No Marriages in Heaven is a hard-boiled detective adventure novel penned by author Kenneth Tucker. Short and sharp in both its length and presentation, this no-nonsense tale gets right to the nub of the mystery as our investigator, Earl Hollo, gets down to business. Combining an emotionally charged plot with a sinister murder element, Earl is tasked with using his sleuthing skills on the death of Maggie, the woman he once intended to marry. The plot teeters on a knife edge of discovering the ugly truth of what happened to result in her death, but also the potentially ugly truth of who she really was, and the impact that has on Earl as the story progresses.

Author Kenneth Tucker evokes some truly excellent moments from the noir era throughout this highly atmospheric and engaging short novel. An element which grabbed me right from the start was the compelling use of dialogue, which lends wit and wisdom to the characters as well as moving the plot forward in a realistic and non-heavy manner. The first person narration is a useful but not overused device too, allowing us deeper insight into the mystery but also leaving well-paced gaps where we can work out clues for ourselves. Earl Hollo makes for a compelling private eye, with a realistic emotional story arc and a set of enviable skills that make him one to watch on the dark streets. Overall, I found No Marriages in Heaven to be a highly engaging and entertaining detective read.