My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Trick of the Mind, the third book of Cassandra Chan’s Bethancourt-Gibbons series of mysteries, was actually the first one I bought thanks to finding a hardcover copy at a local used bookstore–but I didn’t want to read it till I swung back and covered the first two. I’m glad I did that, because as of the this installment, the series starts feeling to me like it’s really gotten its feet under it. Jack Gibbons has been shot in the line of duty, much to the alarm of his good friend Bethancourt as well as Bethancourt’s girlfriend Marla. But to Phillip’s further alarm, Jack can’t remember who shot him. And so it’s up to Phillip to track down the details of his last case.
I am of course a documented sucker for amnesia plots, and even though poor Gibbons loses only a couple of days out of his memory, they are nonetheless critical. And it’s a perfect crisis to let not only Phillip and Marla but several other significant characters as well–like Jack’s boss and Jack’s parents–show their true mettle. I particularly liked that Marla, despite her previous acrimony about Phillip’s engaging himself with police work, nonetheless gives him quite a bit of support as he hastens off to his wounded friend’s side. There’s quite a bit of mileage from the point of view Jack’s boss Carmichael and Carmichael’s wife Dotty as well, and between them and a few other characters, the reader is given quite a decent picture of all of Jack’s colleagues working feverishly to figure out who shot him and why.
Bethancourt is no Peter Wimsey, and yet he does carry on Wimsey’s tradition of the nobleman investigator very well. The personal stakes of his friend’s being threatened give this particular investigation a keener edge for him, much to the story’s overall benefit. I quite enjoyed every bit of it. Four stars.