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Book Review: Something more than a mystery

I’m a fan of mystery novels. Fictional detectives bring order to our chaotic world, and following their exploits enables readers to deal with the daunting prospect of mortality at a distance. These books also give us the opportunity to solve the puzzle of “whodunit” along with fictional detectives.

I have to admit, however, that somewhere in the course of reading “This One Day,” I stopped trying to solve the book’s questions about culpability. My lessened interest in “whodunit” isn’t a criticism of the book, however.

In fact, I stopped caring about the mystery because I started caring even more about the detective trying to solve it.

Private detective Max Tyger is a former police officer who lives in Connecticut. Max makes a meager living taking whatever cases he can and teaching night classes at a community college. He is at a low point in his life when his former love, Helen, who still works for the police, brings him a case.

A teacher at a prestigious local private school is concerned that one of her students, Tommy Lewis, has disappeared. The school and the boy’s parents maintain that Tommy is now enrolled in a boarding school in Texas. The teacher is convinced that they are lying, however. She asks Max to find the truth.

That truth is not easy to discover. The mystery deepens when the teacher herself is murdered.

As he tries to decipher the fates of Tommy and his teacher, Max is forced to face questions about his own fate. He has recently been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He has lost an enormous amount of weight, and the treatments don’t appear to be working.

He takes the case at first simply to make the money he needs for medical bills. Rapidly, the work becomes not just a case but a way to try to make up for past actions he now regrets.

He alienated Helen by cheating on her. He didn’t do enough to help a former student who ended up committing suicide. He becomes determined to prove his worth to Helen and to save Tommy from bad actions and bad decisions.

Max’s dilemma is the human dilemma—figuring out how to make a difference in this world. That dilemma is made more urgent by his bad health and precarious financial situation.

Author K.A. Delaney, who lives in Gill, has created a hero who will remain in readers’ minds. We would all do well to emulate Max Tyger’s determination to make “this one day” matter.

Delaney’s next book, “Bitter Crossing,” will be published next summer under the pseudonym D.A. Keeley.

Tinky Weisblat is the author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook” (www.merrylion.com) and “Pulling Taffy” (www.pullingtaffy.com). She is always looking for new books from Franklin County-related authors to review for this paper. If you have a book suggestion, email her at Tinky@merrylion.com.

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