‘Ill Will’ by JM Redmann
Ill Will (Bold Strokes Books) is book number seven in the powerfully engaging Micky Knight series, and upon finishing this latest installment, readers will be left begging for more. In the opening, Mickey and her lover Cordelia have reunited, and two years have passed since the dramatic post-Katrina events that unfolded in Watermark.
Micky is hired by a family to look into a company named Nature’s Beautiful Gift – NBG – which is hawking “The Cure,” a natural remedy that supposedly corrects everything from aging to AIDS, heart disease to cancer. When Cordelia and her medical group ask Micky to look into the matter of three missing patients who have not followed up with their medical treatment, Micky finds one of them near death with a bottle of the very same “natural” medication at his bedside. Is this remedy really “The Cure” that the NBG claims it is? Or is it responsible for the eventual death of the man?
This is only the start of the medical issues that Micky is drawn into, first on the professional side, and then on the personal side when someone she cares about is diagnosed with cancer. Micky is (in that special Micky way that we’ve all come to know and love) blindsided by the diagnosis and she bounces back and forth between fear and hope, which makes her all that much more able to understand the fury a patient or loved one would feel if something like “The Cure” were touted as disease-eradicating when it’s not effective after all. In true Micky fashion she goes after the truth with a vengeance, even when she’s faced with violence.
Micky has grown so much in the seven books Redmann has written about her. Since the 1990 debut of Death by the Riverside, she’s matured and become more insightful. Paraphrasing the great Raymond Chandler: Down these mean streets a woman must go who is not herself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective must be a complete woman and a common person and yet an unusual woman. She must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a woman of honor. She talks as the people of her age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness.
Micky is like Chandler’s description in so many ways. She has indeed become a bit weathered—but in a good way. She’s smarter and a little more patient. She’s always been witty in a cynical way. She’s thoroughly disgusted by the charlatans she comes in contact with, and we keep reading about her because she truly is unusual and complete, while also seeming to be like someone you would want to call a friend. Following her through her PI and personal life is gripping and emotionally satisfying.
This mystery plot is particularly effective because of the way Redmann has entwined it with the emotional issues facing Micky and Cordelia as they find their way back to one another.
Ill Will is fast-paced, well-plotted, and peopled with great characters. Redmann’s dialogue is, as usual, marvelous. To top it off, you get an unexpected twist at the end. Please join me in hoping that book number eight is well underway.
Ill Will: A Micky Knight Mystery
By JM Redmann
Bold Strokes Books
Paperback, 9781602826571, 312 pp.