Monument to Murder by Maragaret Truman

Monument to MurderReviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

How is a Savannah, Georgia’s prostitute’s murder linked to the highest office of the land, and to the First Lady, Jeanine Jamison? When the struggling P.I. Robert Braxton takes the twenty-year-old case of clearing the prostitute and drug user, Louise Watkin’s, name of murder, little does he know at the time that many wealthy and influential people would rather see him dead than the case dug up again, rehashed, and solved. Monument to Murder, the twenty-fifth novel in Margaret Truman’s long-running Capital Crimes series, is a page-turning novel filled with intrigue and suspense that Truman’s fans will definitely want to add to their reading lists.

Louise Watkins confessed to stabbing a man to death, a man she claimed was trying to rape her. Though the detective in charge of the case had his doubts that the confession was a genuine one, she had confessed, and knew where the murder weapon was, thrown from a bridge into the river, and the cops were able to recover it. All of the evidence seemed to point to her as the culprit. She served four years, was released from prison, and then was shot to death in an apparent drive-by shooting. But was that really what it was, or did someone try to make her death seem to look like a drive-by shooting, when the real reason she was killed was to shut her up?

P.I Robert Braxton takes the case because Louise’s mother, Eunice, comes to him saying she believes Louise didn’t murder the man. Though Louise was a prostitute and abused drugs, Eunice tells Brixton that Louise confessed to the murder to cover for someone else, who had paid her ten thousand dollars. Eunice pays Brixton a thousand of the money to retain his services, and says she doesn’t mind spending the entire ten thousand if it’s necessary to clear her daughter’s name of the murder.

The original murder occurred a long time ago, and Brixton knows that it might be difficult now to discover any new evidence that may have been disregarded or overlooked at the time, but he agrees to take the case. Perhaps Eunice is just grasping at straws, and is being like most mothers would be, not wanting to suspect their own daughters of doing terrible things–but, she had come up with the ten thousand dollars somehow.

And, Eunice shows him a most interesting photograph to take along with him to try to refresh the memories of others–a photo of Louise, another black woman, and three white female teens, taken during CVA (Christian Vision Academy) retreat. When he takes it to show Mrs. Farnsworth, the school’s headmistress, Brixton’s act sends ripples upwards into the highest echelons of Savannah and Washington, D.C., society.

As usual, the author describes the places she writes about in intimate detail, as if she has had first-hand knowledge of them, which she does, having lived in the White House. She writes about the parties and sniping and political conflicts of both Savannah’s and Washington, D.C.’s high society and makes you feel like you have the best seat in the house, watching as a play unfolds before your eyes.

Also, I enjoyed reading about the roles of the CIA and other secret organizations in the novel, and in particular I liked reading about the creepy but interesting government hit-man, Emile Silva. A mamma’s boy, possible closet homosexual, and ruthless, cold-blooded killer, he’s sent around the world to assassinate those who have become political liabilities. When he assassinates a Kurdish doctor in Washington, D.C., though he’s been ordered to do it, the murder is a little bit too close to home.
Monument to Murder by Margaret Truman is a suspenseful, page-turning novel of murder and political intrigue that will keep you reading late into the night. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I will say that Brixton’s search for the truth leads him to the highest office of the land. One snarky reviewer suggested that this novel was ghostwritten, as it’s been rumored some of Truman’s earlier novels have been. Who’s to say, I suppose, unless someone eventually comes forward to say he/she actually did ghostwrite this novel; but, even if it’s true, I’d say IMO that it’s unfair to the memory of Margaret Truman to make this suggestion. If you enjoy reading great mysteries/political thrillers, then I’d highly recommend you check out Monument to Murder by the late Margaret Truman.

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