US author Anne Frasier has several series under her belt, standalone books as well as romance novels under the pseudonym Theresa Weir. This (however) is my first book by Frasier and it features investigative journalist – the spectacularly named – Jupiter (Edwina Delilah) Bellarose. I suspect it’ll become the first in the series and though I found it a little overly-convoluted and ‘fantastique’ (in the end), I liked Jupiter and would happily spend more time with her.
by Anne Frasier
Published by Thomas & Mercer
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
Culpable in an exposé gone tragically wrong, investigative journalist Jupiter Bellarose takes her boss’s advice: head back to her hometown for a fluff piece and get her world in balance. But in Savannah, the past is waiting.
Twenty years ago Jupiter’s mother, actress and celebrated beauty Marie Nova, was murdered, leaving many in her wake: Jupiter’s father, who has erased memories of his wife’s murder with alcohol. The matriarch of the cosmetics company who helped make Marie a star—and who takes every opportunity to reopen old wounds. Then there’s the fragile cop with blood on his hands, and the killer whose confession no longer seems convincing.
This opens as Jupiter is leaving a mental health facility, checked-in at the behest of her editor and boss. We learn she’s just exposed art forgeries but – unfortunately for Jupiter – fell in love with the forger himself. It’s quite an exciting opening and given her lover disappeared and is presumed dead (though aware Jupiter was investigating him the whole time), we assume it’ll play some role later in the unfolding plot. Although it doesn’t. Well, not really.
And that’s really just one of several threads Frasier doesn’t pursue, that I wish she had because it felt like there are a few loose ends. Of course if this is the first in a series, Frasier might be eking out details for future books.
Although Jupiter isn’t known for her ‘puff’ pieces, her boss sends off to profile an ageing cosmetics company. Which seems benign until it’s revealed that Jupiter’s mother – who was very brutally murdered when Jupiter was a teenager – was the ‘face’ of the company. I thought it was a bit off that her boss forces her to confront her past (given his concern about her mental health) although it’s obvious she needs some closure.
Frasier’s given us some backstory into Jupiter’s famous mother and the complex relationship she had with Jupiter’s father. Marie wasn’t subtle about her affairs and comes across as both vapid and a bit of an enigma. The title of this book reflects a story Marie told her daughter about how they ‘found’ her on the road one night… and again there’s A LOT there that could be unpacked, but isn’t.
Jupiter’s decision to revisit her mother’s case seems inevitable but at the same time it felt sudden – as if there was no transition to her decision to do so. She’d ignored it and the man imprisoned for the crime for decades, but suddenly believes there’s more to the story.
We’re also introduced to police officer Ian Griffin, who was a young rookie on his first shift the day of her mother’s murder. Now in his early 40s he’s only a few years older than Jupiter and becomes her confidante and offers advice as she ponders inconsistencies around her mother’s death and peoples’ accounts.
I liked Jupiter, I liked Ian and I liked Jupiter’s boss, Bennett (and was keen for more backstory there, as it felt like it was intimated), but there were so many inconsistencies in people’s relationships and behaviour that events became a bit inconceivable. And Frasier goes for a twisty finish. Indeed it’s a twist (or two) too far. We could easily have done without a couple.
Despite all of that, Frasier’s publishing history indicates she’s popular and I very much liked her characters and aspects of this so – if Jupiter does return – I’d be happy to spend more time with her.
Found Object by Anne Frasier will be published by Thomas & Mercer in mid October 2022.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review.