David Hosp nails you to your chair right from the prologue of The Betrayed and doesn’t let you get up for even a second so make sure the phone is nearby: you’ll be ordering out for a while. The Betrayed is Hosp’s second mystery novel after Dark Harbor and introduces a series of new characters so it seems David Hosp has not quite found his series yet. This one could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The Betrayed has everything a good mystery novel should have: The writing is crisp, there are no filler paragraphs like Spenser describing what Susan is wearing, the characters are believable and well-defined so you do not have any problem keeping track of who is who, and, most important of all, you always want to know what is going to happen next. The Betrayed is not a book you finish reading because you made the original investment but a book you finish reading because you do not have the choice.

Washington Post reporter Elizabeth Creay is brutally murdered. Washington detectives Darius Train and Jack Cassian first think they are dealing with a botched robbery by some crackhead but soon start to think otherwise. The victim’s sister, Sydney Chapin starts to nose around while Train and Cassian are faced with a few roadblocks set up by the victim’s mother, a rich and powerful woman who is protecting a few secrets of her own. Soon, the mystery starts to revolve around the pseudo-science of eugenics as practiced in a Virginia clinic many years ago, something Creay was looking into.

The Betrayed does have a weakness. Sometimes, secondary characters are given long bits of dialogue -well, monologue really-that really serve as expository outlets for information and back story the reader needs. This is particularly evident in chapters 29 and 30whe n Sydney Chapin chats with, well, gets a few lectures from, the doctors at the Virginia Institute For Mental Health. The chapter where Sydney runs into a domestic abuse clinic is also a bit over the top and clunky.

Still, The Betrayed is a well-written mystery that seamlessly moves between the concurrent investigations of detectives Train and Cassian and Sydney Chapin and the other elements in the story. This ability to smoothly take the reader from one scene to another or, in one really good instance, from the point of view of the victim to the point of view of the attacker, is David Hosp’s forte and he knows it. There are a quite a few other brilliant moments of writing here where the line just nails the character such as, “Careful not to chip a nail, she pulled out six rounds and lined them up on the vanity next to the gun.” Under any other writer’s pen, a line like this would find its way into the It Was A Dark and Stormy Night contest but here the sentence works perfectly.

The Betrayed is a really good mystery novel. The cool thing is that thanks to Warner Books I know have a first edition of an author who is definitely going to be around for a long, long time.

The Betrayed
David Hosp
Warner Books 2006
419 pages

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