Mys­tery asks, How well do you re­ally know your par­ent?

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Out + About - By Oline H. Cogdill Sun Sen­tinel

The pri­vate eye cat­e­gory of mys­ter­ies con­tin­ues to thrive be­cause au­thors such as Kristen Le­pi­onka bring a fresh view. Fol­low­ing in the tra­di­tion of Sara Paret­sky, Sue Grafton and Ma rc i a Mul l e r, the Shamus-win­ning Le­pi­onka sculpts a re­al­is­tic char­ac­ter in the form of P.I. Rox­ane Weary with in­tense, be­liev­able plots.

The fourth novel in this se­ries, “Once You Go This Far” works well as a story about fam­i­lies, cen­ter­ing on just how well do adult chil­dren know about their par­ents’ lives. Fam­ily is an im­por­tant part of Rox­ane’s life as she, a de­tec­tive in Colum­bus, Ohio, con­tin­ues a close re­la­tion­ship with her two broth­ers and mother while still mourn­ing the death of her fa­ther, with whom she had a com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship.

A quiet morn­ing hike in a nearby park takes a turn when Rox­ane finds the body of Rebecca New­some ly­ing in a ravine off a pop­u­lar trail. The two had just met in the park­ing lot min­utes be­fore. Rebecca’s daugh­ter, Mag­gie Holmer, doubts that her mother’s death was a tragic ac­ci­dent; Rebecca was an en­thu­si­as­tic out­door­swoman and an ex­pe­ri­enced hiker. Mag­gie, who gave birth to a daugh­ter the day af­ter her mother died, hires Rox­ane to in­ves­ti­gate what was go­ing on in the life of her mother, with whom she, too, had a com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship. Mag­gie even has a sus­pect — Rebecca’s jerk of an ex-hus­band Keir Met­calf, a for­mer Toledo cop.

The case takes Rox­ane from the pri­vate school where Rebecca was a nurse to a casino in Wind­sor, On­tario, to a church whose lead­ers in­sist on con­trol­ling the de­tails of its mem­bers’ lives. Rox­ane learns that Mag­gie didn’t know her mother as well as she thought she did. At the same time, Rox­ane dis­cov­ers how lit­tle she knew about her own fa­ther.

Le­pi­onka con­tin­ues to delve into Rox­ane’s psy­che. Like her cases, she is a work in progress — as we all are. In ad­di­tion to her fam­ily is­sues, she con­tin­ues to wres­tle with her feel­ings for Cather­ine Walsh, with whom she has a rocky re­la­tion­ship, as well as ad­mit­ting her deep­en­ing feel­ings for a new lover.

“Once You Go This Far” proves that Le­pi­onka’s sto­ry­telling skills are far­reach­ing.

Mino­taur. 320 pp. $26.99.

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