One Fine Mess

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One Fine Mess opens in the middle of the action, following Jules and Wesley, who’ve just committed murder. The victim is her cruel and abusive husband, Eddie. As they attempt to rebuild their lives, they’re forced to overcome constant obstacles thrown in their paths. Detective Burpee knows they’re guilty and will do whatever it takes to find the evidence to put them away. Wesley falls into gambling debt to deal with his paranoia, but the further he falls, the more he risks losing his relationship with Jules. When he can’t pay back his bookie, he ends up a target for the local mob. As if life couldn’t be more complicated, Jules’ junkie sister returns, bent on proving Jules is responsible for murder.

The mystery revolves around whether or not Jules and Wesley will get caught. It’s known from the opening scene who the killer is and what the motive is. The drama focuses on their relationship and everyone who is threatening to ruin what they’ve worked for. Their new beginning isn’t the paradise they’re expecting it to be. They go into their relationship thinking since they got rid of Eddie their lives would now be perfect. Where they do have moments of happiness, these scenes feel brief compared to the constant threat to their lives. When Wesley is introduced, he’s described as a nervous and almost twitchy sort of personality, so it’s very fitting to his character to be overwhelmed by the guilt and paranoia of having committed murder. He’s literally haunted by the murder to the point where Eddie’s presence is like that of a ghost, slowly driving him mad.

Jules is driven by her need to have the ideal life, which includes babies and a “perfect” version of Wesley. Instead, nothing goes the way she wants it to. In several ways, her and Wesley’s relationship is toxic as Wesley falls into his gambling and she starts lying to him about being blackmailed. She seems to blame him for everything that goes wrong, even if it’s not his fault. Their personalities have an interesting way of both clashing and balancing, as Jules is the type to charge head first into tackling situations, whereas Wesley seems to just fall into problems. Even when Wesley is doing something right, he still manages to find trouble, which seems to escalate when he tries to fix anything.

The story is split into three distinct arcs, with each one connecting back to the murder. Eddie’s death is the chain reaction for a majority of the problems Wesley and Jules come up against. The detective is their first serious antagonist. He’s set up as the main threat, but he’s quickly pushed aside when more threatening antagonists enter the story. The detective is left to some degree as an ally to them because he sympathizes with Jules’s situation and understands her need to be free from her abusive husband. Jules’s sister has a brief appearance where she causes a tidal wave of chaos, but it’s Wesley’s storyline that has the most drama and proves to the be the most effective. He angers the mob to the point his bookie wants revenge against him. This a constant throughout the story, as Wesley keeps messing up and his bookie keeps returning to try to kill him. One Fine Mess is action-packed, suspenseful, and surprising as Wesley and Jules fight for a normal life against family and the mob.

Reviewed By:

Author Mark Petersen
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 381 pages
Publisher Dunmore Books
Publish Date 2018-Apr-20
ISBN 9780514201801
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue May 2018
Category Mystery, Crime & Thriller


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