"Is there a serial killer at work on the quiet Longboat Key?"
Reviewed by Jennifer Barnhart
Posted May 27, 2013
Thriller Serial Killer
Matt Royal, retired attorney, loves life on the quiet
Longboat Key in Florida, but that tranquility is broken
when a serial killer returns from a twelve year hiatus. Two
women are murdered in the exact same manner, and Matt's
friend Detective Jennifer Diane (J.D.) Duncan appears to be
the next target. Throw in Guatemalan gangbangers, Mexican
drug cartels, and international security and Matt and his
pals have their hands full just trying to stay alive.
FATAL DECREE by H.Terrell Griffin is the seventh book in
the Matt Royal series and it's the first I've read.
are character dynamics in place that have been built slowly
over the books but since I jumped right into the newest
one, I felt a little lost at times. This is a very close-
knit world. Not only in how the characters interact with
each other but in how the setting defines their character.
There is an interconnected to this world that echoes the
theme of family ties and how it can shape a person.
Matt's friendship with Jock is one of the bright parts of
this story and it's really nice to read a mystery in which
the men aren't squabbling over who's the Alpha in the pack.
These men are true friends who have each other's back
always. It's refreshing to see the trust and respect
without the one-upmanship.
On the other hand, the romantic elements in FATAL DECREE
didn't ring true for me. Matt believes himself to be
falling for J.D. and she for him, but Matt's very passive
about this fragile romance. The romance is not the main
plot, but it would have been nice to see Matt push himself
into some sort of action that would result in a more
climactic moment between J.D. and him. I don't want to
spoil the ending so that's all I'm going to say on that.
The biggest obstacle for me is the authorial intrusive
moments and there are a few. You know those moments I'm
talking about, when characters who have no business being
in a scene show up just so they can be part of the story
later. An example of this would be the introduction of
David Parrish, United States Attorney for the Middle
District of Florida. David is so busy with administrative
tasks that he has no time to try cases in court, but he has
three hours to kill by driving to Longboat Key for lunch so
he can tell Matt he read about the murders in the paper and
he can't help him because he's been out of the loop too
long. Characters drop in and out of the story with a
seeming randomness because of the connections that H.
Terrell Griffin is trying build between the seemingly
different world and characters.
FATAL DECREE captures the essence of Longboat Key and how
place can define a person, but the story could have used a
more specific focus in how it developed connections between
characters and their world.
When a serial killer shows up on Longboat Key, Florida after
a twelve year absence, Matt Royal is stymied. The first
woman killed on Longboat Key has ties to a secretive
government agency for which Matt's best friend Jock Algren
works. Was this a coincidence or was she a targeted kill?
Matt's friend, Longboat Key detective Jennifer Diane (J.D.)
Duncan investigates the murders but also seems to be a
target of the killer. Why? And where has the killer been for
the past twelve years? And why has he come to Longboat Key
when his earlier kills were all in Miami?
The mystery deepens when Guatemalan gang-bangers try to kill
J.D. and suspicions grow that Mexican drug cartels are
somehow involved. The director of Jock's agency orders him
to do whatever is necessary to find the killer because of
the death of the woman with connections to the agency.
Will Jock simply take out the murderer or allow J.D. and the
to arrest, try and convict the bad guys? Matt's life is
further complicated by J.D.'s growing dissatisfaction with
island living and her thoughts of returning to Miami.
What do you think about this review?
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