Intricacy in plotting is one sure reason for murder mystery lovers to enjoy Jeffrey S. Stephens’ criminally passionate novel. Describing CRIMES AND PASSION as a mystery within am enigma inside a puzzle would be putting it mildly. Then add to this corkscrew of a tale a layer of pure and unbridled sex – and you have a steamy story to challenge both body and brain. Originally released as “The Blue Journal” by L. T. Graham, Stephens’ pen name, CRIMES AND PASSION will titillate readers while daring them to track its characters to the final unexpected conclusion.
Sexy, psychopath Elizabeth Knoebel is having the time of her life seducing men, women, and pretty much anything that moves until one of her targets decides that enough is enough. But even her murder (in the nude, of course) will not stop her from continuing to stalk her victims on her toxic journey through their lives. For – little known to others, much less her husband – Elizabeth kept a diary of her conquests. When that computerized diary – aptly titled “Sexual Rites” – falls into the hands of police detective Robbie Whyte, fur will surely fly. That is, if he can figure out who the coded initials stand for and how they figure in Elizabeth’s death. Sometimes too many suspects are as daunting as none.
Enter a host of characters – most of whom seemed to have pretty good motives to kill Elizabeth – topped by the members of her therapy group and psychotherapist group leader Dr. Randi Conway. In fact, there are two separate therapy groups, one composed of husbands and the second composed of their wives (including Elizabeth) – a sure recipe for marital woes blended with unmet needs. But is this also a recipe for murder? And just how much that happens in this sequestered room can be disclosed outside of confidential boundaries and ethical rules?
Author Stephens has done a bang-up job of carefully detailing and dissecting – along with slicing and dicing – his cast of characters as their lives become public record and must inevitably lead to the answers everyone waits for. Murder mystery aficionados will find themselves hooked as they ferret out the how and why of Elizabeth’s death amidst a sea of red herrings. But don’t start reading CRIMES AND PASSION after dark. You will surely miss a good night’s sleep as you avidly soak up the twists and turns in this well-designed novel.