Speaking Volumes (2020)
Reviewed by Diana Coyle for Reader Views (9/2021)
In “Fast Track – Lark Chadwick Mysteries Book 1” by John DeDakis, Lark Chadwick heads home after working her shift as a waitress to find a horrific scene. Her Aunt Annie has committed suicide and the odd thing is, things just don’t make sense. While waiting for the cops to arrive, Lark notices Annie’s room is ransacked. Obviously, someone was looking for something, but that didn’t add up to why Annie committed suicide. Lark is determined to find out answers, even if they aren’t ones she really wants to hear. In the process of doing some digging around for clues, Lark stumbles upon a newspaper article from 25 years ago speaking of the horrific car accident that killed both her parents when she was an infant. She realizes that the “miracle baby” mentioned in the article is her. To find some closure to her parents’ mysterious car accident, she decides to locate the editor of the original article written about her parents’ death. She meets Lionel Stone, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning editor in Pine Bluff, Wisconsin, and Lark knows she’ll stop at nothing until she discovers the truth about what really happened that fateful night.
I have to say I loved this first book in the Lark Chadwick Mysteries series. Lark was a character that I couldn’t help but fall in love with, even though she was hot-headed at times and even immature in her reactions to certain situations. I felt that sometimes she flew off the handle quicker than she should have because she didn’t stop to think of the possible consequences of her actions. When Lark met Lionel Stone and his wife, I embraced these two characters and loved the fact that they grew close to Lark while she was doing her investigation. I had hoped she remained close to them and learned a thing or two from Lionel, especially how being a journalist, you can’t jump to conclusions so quickly without knowing the facts and you can’t lose your temper because you’re too close to the story. As the mystery kept unfolding, I found myself wanting to read one more chapter, even though I had errands or chores to do. I couldn’t wait to return to the book because I was fully hooked into the storyline and characters.
Mr. DeDakis is a former veteran CNN journalist and you can see his talent unfold as you turn the pages and become more invested in his story. I would say the book would be great for adults or teen mystery readers because there are some graphic scenes which are too detailed for a younger mystery reader. I love that this is an ongoing series and I’m eager to read the next book in the Lark Chadwick Mysteries. I can’t wait to see what trouble Lark finds herself in next. Undoubtedly, “Fast Track” is one of the best books I’ve read so far in 2021. Well done, Mr. DeDakis!