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Regrets Only    by Nancy Geary order for
Regrets Only
by Nancy Geary
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2004 (2004)
*   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

This story is set in Philadelphia and centers on Lucy O'Malley, a Boston native and daughter of a traditional Irish family. Lucy works for the Philadelphia Police Department and has recently been promoted to the homicide unit. Before Lucy has time to acclimate to her new role as a homicide detective, she has a new case. Dr. Morgan Reese, a psychiatrist, is found murdered near The Rabbit Club, a men's only club where high society, upper crust Philadelphian males spend their time socializing. It is odd that Morgan's body shows up outside a club that, as a woman, she would be unable to patronize. The question is, who killed Morgan and why?

As Lucy begins investigating with her new partner, Jack, a seasoned homicide detective, there are developments in her personal life. She dates Archer Haverill, the handsome and dashing owner of a bar called The Arch. During the murder investigation, Lucy quickly realizes that the murder victim is Archer's estranged mother. Archer is heir to his father's fortune and while he has lived a life of privilege that wealth affords, he has never had a relationship with his mother. Upon his parents' divorcing when he was very young, his father, Rodman Haverill, raised Archer. Rodman is a pompous, stodgy sort who disdains Archer's uncultured career choice, but Rodman is all that Archer has, especially now that Morgan is dead.

As the murder investigation evolves, potential suspects range from a crazed patient of Morgan's to various ex's and competitive colleagues, not to mention the fact that the murder could have been random. The possibilities are many and the author spends a great deal of time outlining Morgan's past, which is replete with stilted relationships and personal problems. Similar focus is placed on Lucy's own family and her brother who committed suicide years before (which is unrelated to the central plot but provides insight into Lucy's personality). Clearly, as the list of suspects grows, Lucy has a thankless job. She must solve the murder as quickly as possible to prove herself as a new homicide detective and to provide closure for Archer, while diplomatically trying to obtain personal information about her boyfriend's mother, the murder victim, from the ever-reluctant Rodman Haverill.

Regrets Only starts off slowly and the murder itself does not take place until the reader has read almost a third of the book. Highlights of Lucy's life are fairly interesting, as are other developments involving ancillary characters, but the novel moves at a plodding place, with a delivery that reminded me of a drawn out game of Clue. There are too many characters and the result is a shallow cast of murder suspects. More suspense, less detail, and fewer (but more richly drawn) characters would have vastly improved this book. Fans of murder mysteries and police procedurals will most likely be disappointed with its laborious pace and plot.

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