[Book Review] The Arboretum After Midnight by W.T. O’ Brien

The Arboretum After Midnight
The Arboretum After Midnight
Front cover

Book Information

  • Purchase link: http://mybook.to/Amazon_ArboretumAM
  • Genre:  Detective fiction, murder mystery
  • Print length: 308
  • Age range: This is an adult novel but suitable for mature teens age 16+
  • Trigger warnings: Homicide
  • Amazon Rating: This is a new book, not yet rated.

About The Arboretum After Midnight

Whitney Colliers is an astonishingly beautiful woman. Moving amongst creative people, and fronting a well-known design studio, she has plenty of admirers and almost as many lovers. A tease to everyone, she delivers on her advertising.

Beautiful, admired, but not well-loved. There are plenty of people with a grudge against Whitney. After creating her usual friction at a party, she takes a ride to a local park to give her dog a run.

It’s just after midnight.

The next morning a jogger comes upon her body, tangled in her dog’s lead and sprawled in a rockery. It looks like a tragic accident, but rookie detective Roscoe Romar quickly concludes that it’s murder.


My Review

The Arboretum After Midnight is a detailed police procedural drama that does a thorough job of investigating every angle of the murder of Whitney Colliers. Junior officer Roscoe and Alec McNee seemed to be the characters driving the story forward with their go-getter attitude.

Through the interviews of the long list of suspects, Whitney appears to take on a life of her own. She’s described differently by each person, yet everybody agrees that she was an unforgettable woman. I was particularly fascinated to learn about her past and the way this information was pieced together.

The plot is quite intricate and cognitively demanding because there are so many threads that branch out from Whitney that deal with her past and her present. Also, the author often expands on the side stories of some characters with minor details — something I felt could have been done away with because it tends to interrupt the steady pace of the story. But it’s astonishing to see how he brings all of these disparate stories together to a believable conclusion.

Except for the fact that the writing could have been tighter, I enjoyed this police-driven murder mystery and never spotted the killer even though I was paying attention. I also enjoyed the themes of homophobia, racism, and gender bias that the author discusses using several characters as his mouthpieces.

(I received an e-copy from Blackthorn Book Tours with a request for an honest review.)


About the Author

W.T. O’Brien is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest. He attended school in Seattle and after high school enrolled at the University of Washington, majoring in billiards and games of chance. After graduating cum laude without a degree, he began a series of menial jobs and failed schemes, which did little to enhance him financially, but added a great deal of spice to his experience. During this time, he considered his occupation to be as a professional pool player, an oxymoron, even though he almost never performed in that pursuit. Eventually, he managed to land a real job, working in the Health Sciences department back at the University of Washington. After twenty-five enjoyable years, he retired. He considered that his modest retirement party, attended entirely by college professors, was a tribute to a successful career as a research consultant.

Over the years, Mr. O’Brien has written short stories, poetry, and screenplays.

The Arboretum After Midnight is his third novel. It is a murder mystery centered around the interior design community in 1990’s Seattle.

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