Author: Alan Cupp
My Copy: ARC courtesy of Henery Press
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Synopsis: Chicago PI Carter Mays is thrust into a perilous masquerade when local rich girl Cindy Bedford hires him. Turns out her fiancé failed to show up on their wedding day, the same day millions of dollars are stolen from her father’s company. While Carter takes the case, Cindy’s father tries to find him his own way. With nasty secrets, hidden finances, and a trail of revenge, it’s soon apparent no one is who they say they are.
Carter searches for the truth, but the situation grows more volatile as panic collides with vulnerability. Broken relationships and blurred loyalties turn deadly, fueled by past offenses and present vendettas in a quest to reveal the truth behind the masks before no one, including Carter, gets out alive.
Where is Tyler Moore? That’s the question Alan Cupp has us asking in Malicious Masquerade. When Jasper Bedford’s daughter, Cindy, is jilted at the altar, Jasper begins to wonder if something may have happened to Tyler. Jasper quickly assembles a search team and the results surprise him, yet yield little information as to Tyler’s whereabouts. Unbeknownst to Jasper, Cindy hires a private investigator to find Tyler because she believes something must have happened to him. Jasper tries to convince Cindy of the truth: Tyler used her for monetary gain; despite showing her evidence of his guilt, she doesn’t believe it. When she meets with Carter Mays, the Chicago PI she hires, she’s convinced he can find Tyler within days and Carter is unsure if he wants to take this case. He has a reason to be suspicious: the authorities haven’t been alerted to Tyler’s disappearance. The deeper Carter digs, the more he uncovers and soon he’s questioning who he can trust.
Character development is strong and yet we don’t really get to know Carter. It was almost as if Cupp focused primarily on the Bedfords with Carter being secondary. Don’t get me wrong, it works, but at times I wanted to know more about him. In the end, this is about finding Tyler and uncovering his motives and as I mentioned, the set up works. I really liked how Cupp shows us how much Cindy has grown. At the end, she’s no longer this spoiled rich girl and when she realizes her father’s true business dealings, she’s conflicted on what to do. I’m not saying what she decides, but it is definitely in keeping with her personality. I’m not surprised at how Jasper and Darlene turn out. I admit feeling sorry for Darlene at times, but it’s apparent she likes to be miserable; she and Jasper are made for each other.
There are a lot of hidden agendas in Malicious Masquerade and Cupp does a terrific job keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. The plot was well executed with a few minor hiccups (explained further down), but he slowly feeds you information. Based on the clues we’re given it’s up to us to decipher them. I was thrown off course a few times, but felt vindicated in the end when it all came together. I still feel as if I had no idea what to expect and I love when writers do that. Now in terms of the secrets, wow-the business aspect of Jasper’s dealings was mindboggling. We’re told Tyler stole several millions from Jasper, but no one is sure how because Jasper and his business partner, have an intricate security system. The pieces come together at the end and everything is well placed.
I debated with the rating and it would have been solid five had a few things been cleared up. There’s an incident involving Carter’s house and it’s assumed Jasper had something to do with it, but the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced Tyler was behind it. If it was Tyler, it’s never expanded on despite the fact one of Jasper’s men is found murdered down the street from Carter’s house. There’s also the issue with several listening devices found in Carter’s office. It is assumed Jasper planted them and I most certainly can believe it, but still I can’t let go of the possibility of Tyler having something to do with it and him wanting to know how close Carter was to finding him.
The bottom line is Malicious Masquerade is a highly enjoyable read. I’m looking forward to more of Alan Cupp’s work.