The Final Steps: A Harbor Springs Cozy Legal Mystery
Mark M. Bello
9 Grand Publications (2023)
Reviewed by Kathy Stickles for Reader Views (02/2023)
The Final Steps: A Harbor Springs Cozy Legal Mystery is a new book by mystery author Mark M. Bello. In this new outing, Mr. Bello has left Zachary Blake behind and is taking a leap into the world of cozy mysteries. I love a good cozy mystery and this author has hit a home run in what is going to be a fabulous new series. I loved it!
In The Final Steps, we are introduced to a wonderful new character, Judge Rosaline Maxwell. Rosaline is now retired, but she used to be a lawyer and then became a circuit court judge before leaving her old life behind and focusing on her writing. She now has a beautiful home in Michigan, many great friends, an incredible new book to her credit… basically the perfect life. Rosaline is asked to speak about her new book at the local college where her best friend, Tyler Guthrie, is president. Sounds perfect, right?
At the college, Rosaline is introduced to Professor Kevin Johnstone and is immediately struck by the animosity between him and Tyler. Of course, next thing you know, Kevin is dead at the bottom of a staircase and Tyler has been arrested for his murder. Knowing her friend as well as she does, Rosaline is positive he is innocent and is determined to prove it. Along the way Rosaline deals with a lead detective who believes strongly in Tyler’s guilt, a young woman who announces herself as Rosaline’s biggest fan, a very angry widow, an informant who does not want to be identified, and a bunch of anonymous death threats. So much for a simple and enjoyable retirement. Is Tyler guilty or is there still a killer on the campus looking for another victim? I guess you will have to read the book to get the answer to these questions, but it will be well worth the time; I assure you.
As the investigation into the murder continues, we are introduced to another of Rosaline’s closest friends, Charlie Granger. Charlie was once a police officer and is now retired from the force and spends his time as a private investigator. Due to the fact that he is very concerned Rosaline is in over her head, Charlie steps in to the investigation to carry out her plans and keep her safe. On a side note, I find Charlie to be a fabulous character. He is brave, smart, and has a sense of humor that is really needed in the story. I feel that he is a perfectly written character and a wonderful partner for Rosaline during her trip into detective work.
Mark Bello has written a really attention-grabbing and fun book in The Final Steps. It is loaded with interesting characters and the perfect mystery climax… the kind that keeps you guessing until the very end. There is no lack of suspects in the story, which makes it even better. In addition, the dialogue is so well-done, and that lets the reader enjoy this story even more. The characters seem very real to the reader and I adore that. Rosaline is a strong, determined, and independent woman. She is written perfectly and the reader will really enjoy this new female protagonist.
When this mystery is finished, we find out that Charlie is coming out of retirement and he and Rosaline will be opening an agency together to investigate old cases where they believe the wrong person has been found guilty of the crime (a topic dear to Rosaline’s heart as that is the cause that she writes about in her books). I am fairly certain that this is going to turn into a wonderful series with the reader desperately waiting for the next book. I, for one, cannot wait to see what Granger and Maxwell get up to in their future endeavors.
Mr. Bello is a captivating writer and I am now a big fan that cannot wait to go along for the ride. I’m sure you will feel the same way. 5 Stars!!