Sunday, May 20, 2018

Downfall: Margot Kinberg

This is the fourth book in Margot Kinberg's Joel Williams series. Joel is a former policeman who has left that job to teach criminal justice at Tilton University. The first three books focused more on the academic setting, but in Downfall the setting shifts to Philadelphia.

Downfall is a quiet, more traditional mystery, where the sleuth gradually tries to tease out a problem that is bothering him. In this case, Joel is working on a research project with two other professors. The subject of the research is an alternative school for at-risk teens, Second Chance of Cords Creek, located in West Philadelphia. The researchers are concerned when they learn that a student in residence at the school died when he left the facility unattended. Even though this took place a couple of years before, they question whether the program has adequate oversight, and soon they begin to question whether the death was accidental.


I enjoyed visiting with Joel again, and this time he moves outside of his university environment. He is still doing his job, though, working with students, other members of his department, and helping to assess if his department should work with another company that provides a for-profit alternative environment for juvenile offenders. Margot Kinberg lived a good portion of her life in Pennsylvania and works in higher education, so the setting is familiar to her and feels authentic.

I often gravitate towards police procedurals when choosing mystery novels, I like the relative realism that type of story provides. Joel doesn't exactly count as an amateur sleuth since he is a ex-cop, and he has good relationships with many policemen in the area. So this is the perfect mix for me, a mystery that focuses on the developing story and the characters but also has police resources when needed. 

This is not a thriller but there is a build-up to some tense moments, as the researchers seek more information on the death of the student, and they begin to suspect that his death was not an accident. When a second death occurs at an event run by  Second Chance, the stress increases and a real investigation starts.

I have read all three of the earlier books in this series, and each has a different approach and we meet new characters. I like this in a series.

I also love the title and the cover of the book.

See other reviews at Fiction Fan's Book Reviews and Mysteries in Paradise, and an interview at Col's Criminal Library.


Publisher:  Grey Cells Press, 2018.
Length:      365 pages
Format:      Trade paperback
Series:       Joel Williams #4
Setting:      Philadelphia
Genre:       Mystery
Source:      I purchased this book.


Kay said...

I'm so glad you featured this one, Tracy. I've been meaning to try Margot's books and this is a good reminder for me. Should I start at the beginning? Probably. Off to search.

TracyK said...

I do recommend reading them all, Kay, for more background on the main character. But I think this one would work as a standalone.

col2910 said...

cheers for the shout-out Tracy. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. It's on the pile for a read at some point in the future - who knows when though!

TracyK said...

I am sure you will enjoy the book when you do read it, Col.

Anonymous said...

Hoping this comment comes thru using another browser. Great to see Margot's book reviewed. --Keishon

TracyK said...

I am glad you got a comment to work, Keishon. Margot's book was a lovely read, and a bit different from earlier ones.

Clothes In Books said...

I have this one lined up on my Kindle - thanks for the reminder to read it!

TracyK said...

I look forward to your review, Moira. I like Joel and I like that is not all about him, but includes other characters, new each time.