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a search for family book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

As an iconic American Western actor, Matt Martin has enjoyed a positive celebrity image. People recognize him in public and collect memorabilia from the films he has acted in. But in the scheme of things, the trappings of fame and fortune don’t fill the void of longing to be surrounded by people that really care about you. After the death of his wife, he finds himself wanting to find the significant people in his life even if it means resurrecting the past. Nearly two decades prior, Matt fathered a child with a woman named Roxanne. But the affair ended before his daughter was born and no effort was made to stay in touch. In an effort to discover where Roxanna and her daughter might be living, Matt hires Bart Northcote, a private investigator, to track down their whereabouts.  While that small mystery is quickly solved, the ones that follow have Bart and Matt chasing leads all over.

When Matt and Bart find Roxanne and her beautiful 18 year old daughter Ariadne (Ari), Matt invites them back to his charming ranch to reconnect and make up for lost time. While life on the ranch seems to be idyllic, tensions are stirring below the surface. When unknown abductors grab Ari in broad daylight, the clock starts ticking. The ransom note arrives with demands…no police…no FBI…or else. In a race against time, Bart finds himself chasing down leads all over the place. Still the unanswered questions plague him. Who even knew about Ari? Who would want to hurt Matt this way? Could it be an inside job? In A Search for Family, his second novel in the Bart Northcote series, Murray Lee Eiland Jr. leads the reader through twists and turn that read like a classic private eye mystery.

Not having read the first book in the series, I was unsure whether this sequel would make sense. Not to worry! Other than a few minor references, this story filled in most of the pieces from the first novel. I thoroughly enjoyed Bart Northcote as a PI. His character felt so ordinary and likable. Unlike a high suspense thriller, this novel really highlighted all the little mysteries in everyday life that we often overlook. While unraveling every thread of this story, motives are carefully highlighted and we see that human motivations, even good ones, often lead us to make poor choices that can have disastrous consequences. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a classic detective story.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Murray Lee Eiland, Jr.