Book Review: Performing Murder by Joseph LeValley

The violent death of a famous actress rocks the rural Iowa town of Orney, where a Hollywood movie company is filming on location. Local newspaper reporter Tony Harrington is stunned by the murder, as he was one of the last people to see her alive. Tony finds himself further entwined in the case when it’s learned the actress was seen riding in his car on the night she was killed, and when her former lover attacks him and his best friend.

Soon Tony’s world view is shattered when someone he loves is officially charged with the murder, and the evidence collected by the authorities is indisputable. As Tony desperately seeks an alternative solution to the case, he finds it may have ties to a family secret from thirty years in the past.

As the investigation intensifies, so does the action, leaving a second person dead and a third lying on the ground with a bullet hole in his side. At the point where Tony is ready to give up and concede the unthinkable is true, a newfound love convinces him to dig deeper. Her strength, intelligence, and belief in Tony helps him cling to hope and begin to unravel the truth, right up until the murderer fights back, putting Tony in the greatest peril of his life.

Join Tony as he races against time to save an innocent man, win a woman’s heart, and stop a criminal genius from once again “performing murder.”

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My Review

This is the fourth Tony Harrington novel by Joseph LeValley, but it’s the first one I’ve read. It is definitely a standalone.

The small town of Orney, Iowa, was the site of the movie Murder Beyond Them directed by the famous Ramesh Bhatt and based on the novel by Charles Harrington. Tony Harrington, the son of Charles, was a reporter who lived in Orney and the reason that the movie was being shot there.

Soon after the shooting of the movie began, one of the female movie stars was murdered, and there was a lot of convincing evidence that Charles committed the murder. When all of the evidence was presented, I couldn’t imagine how he couldn’t be guilty. On the other hand, it was so obvious, I figured there had to be more to it. Tony felt the same way. He wanted to believe that his dad was innocent, but how could he? Then again, Tony knew that as a writer of murder mysteries, Charles wasn’t stupid enough to leave so much evidence behind. Maybe he was framed? But how?

Other than the murder, there was a lot going on in Performing Murder. Not only did Tony have the murder to investigate as a reporter and to help his dad, he had a blossoming relationship with Darcy, the other female lead from the movie. Tony’s best friend, Doug, another reporter, got shot. Tony was knocked out by someone they thought was paparazzi but obviously wasn’t. And that’s just some of what was going on! Once I got into the book, there was so much happening that it was difficult to put down.

The small-town feel was genuine. Everyone knew everyone else’s business. A good example of this, and something that tickled me, was when Tony got some information from Davis, a good friend of his who worked in law enforcement. Tony didn’t want to get his friend in trouble, so as a courtesy, he called the sheriff to get the information from him. The sheriff had left a note with his secretary to tell him that whatever Davis had told him was fine.

The author’s writing flows well. The book is exciting, and the characters are believable. I like that they’re not just good or bad; the good guys have flaws, and the bad guys have good qualities.

I recommend Performing Murder for anyone who likes a good murder mystery. It has suspense, danger, romance, and a touch of humor.

About the Author

Joseph “Joe” LeValley was fortunate to find success in three careers prior to becoming an author: journalism, health care, and music. He was a reporter-photographer for Iowa newspapers for seven years. During that time, Joe wrote articles ranging from breaking news to feature stories to personal columns. Subsequently, he served for more than 30 years as an executive in Iowa hospitals and its largest statewide health care network. During that time, he and his team won four national awards for communications excellence.

As a musician, Joe plays drums and guitar. He has performed with a number of groups and has written more than 40 songs. In 2016, he was inducted with the Mourning Glory Rock Band into the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.

A lifelong Iowan, Joe has a degree in journalism from Drake University in Des Moines and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Iowa. He and his wife Jane have six children and live in Dallas County, Iowa.