In July of 1969 Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and Charlie Olmstead disappeared. Charlie was never found and was ultimately assumed dead by Police Chief Jim Campbell. Fast forward to the present. Charlie’s mother has just passed away and his brother Eric, who was an infant at the time of Charlie’s disappearance and is now a famous mystery writer (cute), is left with his mother’s dying wish, “Find Charlie.” With the help of former state police investigator Nick Donnolly and Perry Hollow’s present Police Chief Kat Campbell – daughter of Jim Campbell – Eric sets out to follow the clues his mother had amassed before her death. As the trio starts digging, they discover layers and layers of lies and deceit. The question is, under all that deception will they unearth the truth about Charlie?
BAD MOON is Todd Ritter’s follow-up to DEATH NOTICE. While I haven’t read DEATH NOTICE yet, I followed BAD MOON with no difficulty whatsoever. I also determined I need to go back and pick up DEATH NOTICE. Todd Ritter is not an author you should let slip by unnoticed. His keen depictions of humans who can feel love, pain, rage and fear are the kind that quietly reel you in while you’re caught up in the plot and not paying attention. By the time you encounter the first red herring, you’re invested and you care.
Ritter’s atmosphere and pace coalesce with his small-town U.S.A. setting, yet at the same time steal hours from you before you have a chance to notice; his warm humor adds to the novel’s enticement and puts that extra shine on an already impressive work.
The greatest strength of BAD MOON is Ritter's ability to seamlessly blend all the elements of story so they effectively work together. No one part carries the brunt of the book. As he unfolds the complexity of his characters, he's simultaneously building the suspense. The dialogue develops the atmosphere as well as the character complexity. It's an interdependent series of links - all of which are strong, no weak links in this chain. In BAD MOON there is no having to choose between, "which is more important to you character or plot?" The elements are too closely intertwined to consider separately. BAD MOON is simply a great book.
BAD MOON is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9780312622817) from Minotaur.