By Edna Snidebottom
James Waltzer’s new novel invites us to discover if a crime has been committed or if the main character has been released too early from a mental institution.
Richard Keene is one of those imperfect heroes we love to root for. Keene learned at a very young age that being born with exceptional hearing can be more of a curse than a blessing. Unable to block out all the noise around him, Richard was a very lonely and awkward boy. Thankfully he had his good friend Cindy, a neighbor, who seemed to understand him.
At the age of eight, Richard’s special hearing allows him to witness a crime that he’s never gotten over and which contributes to his stay in a mental institution. He is approaching thirty when he is released, living in a high rise in Philadelphia and working as a audiometry technician. The guilt he still carries pushes him to action when he finds himself in a similar situation to the one he experienced as a young boy.
I have read quite a few mysteries and one thing I really enjoy is being taken by surprise and Waltzer supplies those moments and more. The characters are well-defined and interesting. I particularly liked Lieutenant Robert Oliver. Soon to be retired, a widower who lost his only daughter, he wonders if his life has purpose until Richard crosses his path. Oliver is a seasoned cop who doesn’t quite know how to handle the wild tale that Richard tells him.
The story takes place in Philadelphia and local readers will enjoy the references to different landmarks throughout the city. William Penn’s statue has a prominent place in this thriller but that’s all I’m going to give away.
I hope we have not heard the last of Richard Keene and Lieutenant Oliver. I’d like to see them get together again to help solve another crime.
‘Of Sound Mind,’ published by Medallion Press, can be purchased at amazon.com.
A former teacher and corporate personnel director, James Waltzer turned to writing in 1988 and has since written more than 700 features for regional magazines in the Northeast. He has authored six books including novels and non-fiction titles. Waltzer lives in Pennsylvania.