Review by N.N. Light’s Book Heaven:
A creative and well-written murder mystery that keeps the reader guessing. In 10 or 15 years, this book will qualify as historical fiction. The setting is so well presented the reader will find themself in protest torn, covid infected Portland. The detailed setting will be unsettling for those who have bad memories of the last couple of years but fear not. Many an evocative work has been set during the Blitz in London. This is the modern approach to this kind of fiction.
Galen is an excellent detective soon reaching the end of his professional road. The character is very likable. The secondary characters shine and can each enhance the reader’s interest in this story. Character building can be a tricky thing but this author nails it with aplomb.
Gripping and original, this book will appeal to all fans of crime mystery. I have read likely hundreds of this type of book and there are parts here that were new to me. A very entertaining mystery that keeps the reader guessing ‘til close to the end. Heartfelt and warm at the same time. This book will be a treasured read for many and be re-read over and over. A wonderful addition to the crime mystery family.
My Rating: 5 stars
Four-star review by Self-Publishing Review:
Author David Ackley returns to the tale of his curmudgeonly hero, Galen Young, in The Obituary Page, a gritty and gripping thriller.
With the feel of being torn from today’s headlines, this standalone sequel builds on Ackley’s previous novel, The Opinion Page, but takes readers on a whole new hunt. A nearly cold kidnapping case still weighing heavily on Galen’s mind suddenly heats back up when a new ransom note arrives, deepening the mystery of Robert Armlin’s disappearance after his attempted heroics.
At the same time, an almost closed case takes a bizarre twist as the previously “missing person” ends up dead after a tragic accident. Galen finds himself pulled in multiple directions, while his old-school investigatory style clashes with a fast-moving world trying to leave him behind.
Galen is the oldest active officer in the police bureau, facing retirement in less than a year, so finally solving this high-profile case might be the last act of a noble career. His health is also dwindling, as he suffers from seasonal bugs and a steady stream of deadly stress, which makes this perpetually under-siege sleuth even more appealing, despite his grumpiness. The author’s deep narration of his personal struggles – including being guardian to a grandson who needs more help than Galen can provide – reveals a relatable and vulnerable side of this harrowed protagonist.
The events of the story are cutting edge and contemporary, occurring against the backdrop of the social justice summer of 2020, after the brutal murder of George Floyd. Framing a fictional thriller within a real-world context makes the reading experience even more immersive, as readers feel connected to recognizable events of the past two years, as well as certain issues facing the book’s characters. Small details like Galen wearing a mask, lamenting the pandemic, and making asides about “crowd control” in response to protests in Portland give this book a visceral and timely edge.
The language is generally straightforward, without any need for overly flowery descriptions, but his skill in prose-craft gives even the simplest actions and moments a dynamic feel. That said, the procedural elements of the investigation can be overly dry, and some of the expositional details seem unnecessary to the progress of the story. Additionally, there are some small technical errors and grammatical issues that should have been cleaned up by a thorough edit. Spelling errors like “pealed” instead of “peeled” may seem insignificant, but a final proofread could help tighten up other weak moments of the prose.
Similarly, there are some clunky and tone-deaf moments in the writing, particularly given the contemporary nature of the plot, such as calling an unhoused individual a “street person,” and musing why that person would possess keys, along with other outdated or faux-pas choices in the prose. Even so, the story is rife with action and drama, the characters come across as deeply human, and readers will once again be sucked in by Ackley’s unexpected twists.
All told, The Obituary Page has some minor flaws, but it is a compelling and eminently relatable thriller overall.