Louise Ure comes to the mystery genre honestly – by being on a lot of juries. An Arizonian by birth and a former business person who rescues Golden Retrievers in her spare time, she has thrown in her lot with mystery fiction writers in this fine first effort, Forcing Amaryllis.
Amaryllis, or Amy, is the traumatized sister of Calla Gentry (we see their mother had a passion for flowers). Amaryllis finally tries to take her own life after unsuccessfully struggling to cope with a violent rape. Beginning with a morose and wordless withdrawal and winding up in a comatose state, Amy’s condition provides Calla with the incentive to dig into the nasty past and stir up trouble in an attempt to find out what happened to Amy.
When she is assigned to a rape case as part of her duties as a trial consultant, she begins to see similarities between present crime and past perfidies, a possible link to the villain who “forced Amaryllis.” Raymond Cates is a rich boy with a lot of attitude, and he could be the man Calla is after. Paradoxically, her professional mandate is to select jurors who will decide for Cates but, “I couldn’t separate my distrust of Cates from the research. Presumption of innocence, my ass...Was I finishing the construction of a tower that was never meant to be completed? I didn’t know if I felt like the cat or like the mouse.”
The book moves along briskly, with a great deal of attention being paid to what Ure knows well – the courtroom scenario. It provides the vehicle for how Calla builds a case against the presumed bad guy.
There are some switchbacks at the end, a struggle that turns out to be with the least bad of two reprehensible characters, and a couple of physical battles between Calla and these evil men that wouldn’t be quite believable had we not been assured that the heroine was “not much for pretty, but you’re sure good for strong.” Still, it’s a stretch, but still, it gives us a cinematic climax and a denouement that satisfies without waxing maudlin.
Chances are that Ure has other plots up her sleeve and we will expect to see her name again in the genre of feisty females drafted into service as crime-fighters.