resolveReviewed by MaryLu McFall

If there is one thing I’ve never wanted to do it’s to run a marathon. Never even been tempted to run around a track since high school. As I finished Resolve, a debut novel by a runner and a former police officer, I felt I had accomplished that feat without moving a foot. Or feet.

After arriving home to find the electricity off I grabbed some candles and decided to read. I barely noticed the hum of the furnace when it came back on I was so involved. The author begins with a prologue of running (oh, no!) in a marathon in Pittsburgh. Be patient, I thought, and it paid off. The prologue ended with statistics about how many runners would drop out, become ill, get injured, or…the one that will be murdered… “I’m going to kill him.” Now, that is a hook.

Cyprus Keller, a professor of criminology, relates a plot with as many twists and turns as the path the runners are punishing their bodies with in a marathon. Twenty-six chapters later Keller finishes the race, relating the story as he runs. As a professor he has a graduate student who tries to kill him and mutters some cryptic words just before Cyprus kills him in self-defense. The ensuing investigation brings two Pittsburgh policemen into the picture. As a former policeman Keller knows how they operate and he is careful with his responses as to the motive of the victim. Although he doesn’t understand much, he realizes the murder of a female student who had come on to him must be connected.

Being married to a psychologist has its advantages and its flaws, and as Keller discovers, his wife, Kaitlyn, is not one to be fooled. Cyprus Keller is one of those rare, solid male protagonists. He loves his wife and would never fall prey to a female student coming on to him. But there are some who would respond to such a ploy. Many a career has been ruined by such shenanigans. Not in this case, however, and the plot gets twistier and twistier with each revelation. Lindsey, the first victim, has been coming on to several professors. Her secret project is designed to advance a career in investigative journalism.

Each mile run is narrated as the beginning of each chapter, and although it’s a little unusual as a narrative device, it works. I was ready to quit running by the third or fourth mile, but I couldn’t stop reading. The back story of Keller’s life is cleverly related, and his dealings with all levels of humanity are as much a curse as a blessing. He knows the criminal mind, their habits, and their flaws. He is more than a little cynical, but teaching has given him purpose, as has his marriage to the love of his life. He has character and brains and comes across as a good man. The detectives are not taken in by his expertise which is obvious to them since they are both aware that Keller knows how to handle himself as a potential victim. Hartz and Shand have done their homework.

As Keller decides to resolve an injustice, he proves he’s a good husband by telling Kaitlyn everything. After all, he’s done nothing wrong except get in the middle of murders that just keep happening. Kaitlyn asks him what he’s going to do, and she agrees. The last mile in the marathon is where the “I’m going to kill him” comes to fruition. Brilliant justice is delivered, and delivered flawlessly.

You’ve got to appreciate a protagonist who is clearly a moral person, has a wife who loves and supports him; he lives his life with authenticity. Really glad to run with Resolve even without the benefit of electricity.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

MaryLu McFall is the author of A Little Karmic Murder and The Family Lancaster. She lives in Newnan, GA and does research and customer service at an independent bookstore. In her spare time she visits her eight grandchildren and family as almost all live in the area.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by The Permanent Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received