The Acquittal by Anne LaughlinThe Acquittal by Anne Laughlin is a murder mystery that will have you glued to the page. With all the twists and turns, I am going to have to write a careful review not to give away spoilers!

Josie Harper is an ex-detective who left the police force after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She could have stayed on the force, but a cop with any mental illness would not be allowed on the streets with a weapon, so she left rather than be deskbound. She decided to become a private investigator to continue investigations and stay armed.

Her illness is very new, when we first meet her, and Josie is having weekly meetings with a psychiatrist who is monitoring her and encouraging her to maintain a routine that will allow her to function.

Josie is preparing her new premises for clients on her first day as a PI when a woman heading for a PI firm down the hallway decides to take a chance on her because she is a lesbian. She is hired by an outside group to clear the name of publisher Lauren Wade who was recently acquitted of the murder of her lover.

Lauren did not admit to either her innocence or guilt during the trial and she won’t actually assist Josie in her investigation.  Would she do this if she was innocent? And if she is in fact innocent then who did commit the murder?

The Characters

Josie has all sorts of problems which we learn about as events take place. Her manic behaviour before she was diagnosed, whilst still in the police, has left her with feelings of both embarrassment and a lack of self-confidence. She believes that no woman will ever love her because of her illness.

During the manic episodes of bipolar disorder, Josie believes she can do anything, achieve anything and that nothing is impossible. The mania of such an episode means that she believes she doesn’t need the medication that controls her illness.

Her arc takes her both on an investigative journey and a search for acceptance of her illness and subsequently perhaps a relationship. The backdrop is how she deals with her illness throughout the investigation.

Lauren is the president and editor-in-chief of a publishing company. When her parents retired she was given the position in preference to her brother and she had been doing a good job until she ended up in prison.

She is wealthy, and when we first meet her, she is suffering from depression having spent the last six months in prison. She was in a long-term relationship with her dead partner.

Her arc is on a collision course with Josie’s as the investigation starts, and I will say no more for fear of spoiling.

The Writing Style

Laughlin continues to impress with her writing style. She makes a story easy to read and yet a real page-turner.

This book is an interesting exploration of bipolar disorder. I have, like many people, little knowledge of bipolar disorder. My only exposure has been the TV series Homeland when Claire Danes so expertly played Carrie Mathieson, who had those manic episodes. The way bipolar disorder manifests itself in Josie is really well done, the characteristics of the illness and her thoughts are impressive.

The Pros

Laughlin executes a complex plot and ensures the reader is guided into making the wrong presumptions and conclusions which adds to the tension and fun.

The Cons

It’s not really a con, but I would have loved to have known more about Lauren and Josie before these events. We only get a brief backstory, and I wanted more.

The Conclusion

This is a wonderful read. A mystery that does not follow the expected path, with a little bit of romance and characters that are different. It is an enjoyable read and worth spending a weekend with your head in a book!

Excerpt from The Acquittal by Anne Laughlin

“Tell me about the murder,” Josie said.

“You’ll find all this in the trial transcript, which I’ll give you, but the bare facts are Lauren came home around eight thirty on February fifteenth and found Kelly dead on the kitchen floor. She’d been shot through the head. When the police arrived they discovered Lauren’s own revolver next to the body and no sign of forced entry anywhere in the house. The gun had been recently fired and they found powder residue on Lauren’s hands. They took her in for questioning and then charged her with the murder.”

“How did Lauren explain the gun and the residue?”

Sarah leaned forward. “That’s what’s so weird about this whole thing. Lauren wouldn’t say anything at all to the police.”

“You mean she requested a lawyer?”

“No, she refused a lawyer. She wouldn’t say anything to defend herself. The detectives and their lieutenant took her refusal to answer questions as tantamount to a confession. They felt they had enough to charge her.”

Josie was drawing question marks in her notebook.

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781626392601
  • Publisher: Bold Stroke Books Inc.

Anne Laughlin Online

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Note: I received a free review copy of The Acquittal by Anne Laughlin. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.