Private investigator Ellen Brazil is hired to find ex-banker Charles Dugan, who disappeared after his mansion burned to the ground. Ellen quickly discovers that Dugan's new profession--playing poker full time--has earned him a circle of very dangerous "friends." Ellen's investigation is disrupted when her mother is injured, leaving Ellen to wonder why her mother's abusive husband has gone missing when he should be at the hospital. Ellen finds herself trying to solve two cases at once while smoothing over her own personal issues. When she learns Dugan has plans to flee the country, Ellen knows it's imperative to find him before the gang he owes money to discover his whereabouts and carry out their grave intentions.
'Grave Intention' is the latest top-notch thriller by M.A. Comley. It is the second in her new 'Intention' series following 'Sole Intention' featuring Ellen Brazil and Brian Lynx from the Worcester Missing Persons Hotline. I loved and enjoyed reading 'Sole Intention' very much but this was even better.
As from the beginning, this thriller is full of suspense and intrigue, but it also includes some moments of laugh-out-loud humour throughout (which I really enjoyed) and even a sprinkle of romance. We learn how the relationship between Ellen and Brian develops. Ellen's mother and her step dad also take a central role.
To everyone's surprise, Charles Dugan, a wealthy top banker decides to quit his job and become a professional high-stake poker game player. After several encouraging wins, his gambling obsession gets out of control and he loses all money won and becomes bankrupt. He had been messing with the 'big boys' and is now highly in debt with them.
Flames engulf the Dugan's mansion and it is completely destroyed. Three charred bodies presumed to be those of the family members, Charles and Tina Dugan and their daughter Peaches are found inside.
As plumes of smoke still rise from the burnt house, Marsha Lord, the late Tina Dugan's sister receives a phone call from Charles Dugan, her brother-in-law who was supposed to have died in the inferno. He doesn't say where he is, he seems to be in distress but he's evidently alive... and on the run.
A frantic Marsha contacts Ellen Brazil to help her find Charles Dugan. From the outset, Ellen smells something fishy and is convinced that not everything is as it seems in this case. Was the fire an accident or intentional? Who wanted the Dugan family dead and why? Where is Charles Dugan? Why did he run away while his house burned down? With the help of her partner Brian Lynx and cop brother Jim, Ellen begins her investigation and delves into the life history of Charles and his family, but will she make it on time to find him before something terrible happens to him?
I really had a good time reading this book and I highly recommend it. As usual with M.A. Comley's books, the characters and dialogue are very realistic. The book also teaches a lesson...that before taking any major decision in life, one must always carefully consider the repercussions that such decision might bring about on them and their families.