"Identity Crisis": A Sam McRae Mystery
By Debbi Mack
Quiet Storm Publishing, 2005
ISBN: 978-0-557-08325-1, $15.99
Review by Cindy Chow
A domestic violence case turns deadly for
attorney Stephanie Ann “Sam” McRae, but not in the way that would be expected. This time, it’s the abuser who’s been shot dead, with the police and an FBI agent wanting to know the location of Sam’s client Melanie Hayes, who has just gone missing. To further upset Sam’s life, she just barely escaped having her own identity stolen by an imposter applying for a credit card in her name. Maryland
Feeling responsible for her client and then hired by Melanie’s boss, Sam investigates Melanie’s home and the dead man’s life, discovering that Melanie’s Ex worked at a strip club and seemed to have been falling apart mentally at the end up of his life. Teaming up with a private investigator who served papers on Melanie alleging that she was involved in identity theft cases, Sam gets herself involved in more trouble than she could ever expected.
For a first novel, Identity Crisis is very well-written and reads smoothly with a plot that is tied up satisfactorily if not neatly. Sam herself proves to be complicated and somewhat ethically flexible. She’s unwilling to break a federal law by opening an envelope that was sent to a post office box rented out illegally in her own name, yet swipes the appointment book from her missing client’s home and even breaks into the office of a strip club after hours. She has a married lover, one who is on the opposing side of her legal case. More disturbing for me though, is that she’s beaten so severely by mafia-types wanting to know information that she spends a week in the hospital and yet neglects to reports the attack to either the police or her district attorney boyfriend. It’s a plot hole that had me seriously questioning Sam’s judgment as a member of the bar.
However, this novel did keep me completely riveted to the end and truly had me liking Sam, her humor, and her dedication to her client. Sam is realistically flawed, and this just makes her all the more relatable to those who may be jaded by tough-talking, cynical detectives. Sam deserves another outing soon that will show her growth as a person, an attorney, and as an investigator. Readers will be rewarded by another appearance of a Sam McRae mystery.