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Reviewed by Ayrial King for Readers' Favorite
B.V. Lawson beautifully portrays a perfect storm in Played to Death, where the reader hopes to make it through the story in one piece. The story starts with Scott Drayco, FBI agent turned private consultant of sorts, inheriting something quite unusual from a former client of his: the once-grand Opera House, complete with dilapidated waiting rooms, a barely-played piano, and the fresh dead body of his would-have-been next client. He did not want to get caught up in this murder investigation, especially so soon after his last case. However, the subsequent death of the client’s wife adds more fuel to an ever-growing fire threatening to destroy the small coastal town of Cape Unity, Virginia. Add to that a radical town development project spearheaded by one of the town’s councilmen, rumors of affairs and jealousies flying faster than emails, and possibilities of more victims to come from an assailant or assailants unknown, and you have an excellent murder mystery to sink your teeth into.
I love how the tempo of the book is written in similar fashion to an ocean’s tide. In the beginning it swells up with Drayco finding Oakes Key’s dead body in the Opera House, but then the Sheriff’s and Drayco’s separate investigations lull me back out into open waters where anyone can be a suspect with motives both seen and unknown. Then it swells up again with Mrs. Key’s murder, and I keep reading ... not sure if the book will ease back for that investigation or if events will unfold in such a way that Drayco’s world – and the world of Cape Unity – would just crash on the shores of life. Before I know it, I’m sucked into the tide of “What will happen next?” Lawson’s book was so good, I read it twice from beginning to end. I also like how Scott Drayco is not the typical hard-ass detective; he is actually quite average despite his advanced degree and being a former FBI agent as well as a former pianist. He is someone you can go on investigations with if you know how to work with him, or have a drink of intensely strong black coffee if you can stomach it. The citizens of Cape Unity are as diverse and multi-layered as any person living in the large cities, and Lawson portrayed them splendidly. Overall, well done.