Reviews for Speak Ill of the Living:
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Arsenault's second mystery about investigative reporter Eddie Bourque, who's now scraping out a living writing and teaching in the mill town of Lowell, Mass., is even better than his Shamus-finalist debut, Spiked (2003). Like Archer Mayor in his Vermont-set Joe Gunther series, Arsenault excels at depicting ordinary folks adjusting to changing economic circumstances. He also has an abiding respect for the role of print journalism in telling their stories. "News writers can't afford writer's block; it's a luxury for people without deadlines," Bourque muses as he sits in a Lowell diner and punches into his laptop a story for the Associated Press about banker Roger Lime, supposedly carjacked and burned to death, who suddenly resurfaces alive six months later, as shown in a kidnapper's photo sent to Lime's wife. The published story brings a letter from Bourque's older brother, Hank, who's serving a life sentence for murder. "I know who's doing this," Hank writes, sending Bourque off on a dark and dangerous search for truths both personal and public. Arsenault's extremely likable hero has a knack for getting info from tough female cops, but best of all, he's a completely believable journalistic icon—a man who makes the right choices because he believes in the value of his work.
The follow-up to Shamus Best First Novel finalist Spiked (2003) finds reporter Eddie Bourque freelancing his way around Lowell, Massachusetts, trying to keep himself in kibble for his demanding feline roommate, General VonKatz. That means fielding late-night calls from wire-service editors offering a few hundred bucks a story. One of these involves the kidnapping of a local swell everyone thought was dead. Soon Eddie's brother, serving life for murder, writes with information about the case. If it hadn't been for his brother going bad, their parents never would have had Eddie--so he's got heavy family issues to sort through while he tries to solve the mystery. It's a great premise, and even though the plot hinges on an outlandish conspiracy, Eddie is so engaging that most readers will suspend their disbelief. Arsenault also salts the story with amusing set pieces (such as Eddie's attempts to master a motorcycle with "ape-hanger" handlebars) and delivers a -tension-packed showdown between a killer and his would-be victim trapped at the bottom of a well. Where's Lassie when you need her?