Sunday, May 15, 2011

Days & Hours by Susan Meissner

book cover

Days & Hours
by Susan Meissner

ISBN-13: 9780736919166
Trade Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Released: September 1, 2007

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Back Cover:
A baby is found abandoned and the effect on attorney and mother Rachael Flynn is profound. Marcie, the infant's young mother with a history of drug abuse, is the chief suspect. Marcie insists she's innocent and demands that Leo, her baby son, be returned to her. But Marcie's mother and sister say otherwise.

When baby Leo is found missing a second time, the evidence against Marcie seems overwhelming. But relying on her own motherly intuition--and a faith that God is using her to resolve this puzzling case--Rachael chooses to believe Marcie's story and digs for the truth of what really happened...and who is responsible.

My Review:
Days & Hours is a legal/detective mystery--a lawyer, using information provided by police detectives plus questioning suspects on her own, discovers the truth about her child endangerment case. This novel was the third in the series, and the "whodunits" of the previous mysteries were spoiled in this one.

I liked that this mystery wasn't a murder, especially since the victim was a newborn baby. I was able to figure out whodunit long before Rachael, which was odd considering that she consciously decided to look for the least likely suspect. By the end, I found it frustrating that Rachael had all of the clues but she kept making up impossibly complicated scenarios to explain them rather than considering the simplest, most obvious answer. She also did things that she knew were dangerous (and she didn't need to), yet she didn't even take the easy precautions she could have. She came across as an earnest, naive, but annoying busybody who just couldn't trust other people do their jobs. Her police detective friend was willing to do anything she asked of him, yet she just couldn't keep her hands out of it.

The characters were fairly complex and quirky in what's meant to be an engaging way. The details about Rachael's job as a prosecutor for the county's Human Services were interesting and woven nicely into the story. It's a quick read, and the suspense (for me) came mainly from curiosity about whodunit. Though we're told repeatedly that the baby was in mortal danger, that part kind of felt inevitable (probably in part due to the book description on the back cover), so there was no suspense from that for me. (The baby did get badly hurt, by the way.)

Several of the characters were Christians, though that's easy to forget since it's such a background, rarely mentioned element. Rachael had "hunches" and vivid but useless nightmares that she believed were sent from God to help her solve the mystery. There was no sex. There was no explicit bad language, though one word that's often used as bad language was occasionally used in appropriate context.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
The infant lay on his side, half swaddled in a faded yellow receiving blanket. A tiny fist curled in mock defiance rested on his cheek, the other was hidden in the folds of the fabric. Tiny splotches of angry red dotted his newborn face--evidence of his strained entrance into the world and giving him the wrinkled look of an old man. The baby stirred for a moment in his sleep and his mother, standing over him, hesitated for only a moment before she grabbed a shot glass on the table behind her and walked away from him.

The apartment was quiet except for the low sounds of a TV that had been left on for no reason. Toys belonging to the baby's siblings lay scattered about his porta-crib, which stood at an odd angle in the living room, along with a cardboard pizza box, an empty liter bottle of cream soda, and Dixie cups that had been used as ashtrays.

A car seat sat on the floor across from the porta-crib. It was new, given to the baby's mother, Marcie, by a nonprofit group dedicated to keeping little ones safe in their mommies' and daddies' cars.

Marcie didn't have a car. A friend had brought her and her third child born in three years home from the hospital that day. There was no daddy to speak of. Nine months ago there had been, certainly. But not today.

Marcie sauntered into the kitchen and rummaged for a cigarette. She wasn't entirely sure who the father was this time. It annoyed her that she didn't know.

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