Too Many Murders: A Carmine Delmonico Novel

Written by Colleen McCullough
Review by Janette King

With a population of only 150,000, Holloman, Connecticut, isn’t technically large enough to have its own homicide department, but on April 3, 1967, Captain Carmine Delmonico wished he had more than three squads of detectives at his disposal. On that day no less than 12 murders were committed, each killing with a different modus operandi. Surely in a city so small, a dozen murders in one day cannot all be coincidence. Delmonico feels certain that at least some of the killings are connected, and a few may even be red herrings.

This is the second in the Colleen McCullough’s Carmine Delmonico murder mystery series. It finds him perplexed, both by the sheer volume of his case load and because he finds himself somewhat connected to one of his suspects, even if at second hand. Two cases in particular strike him as the most important, the bear-trap murder of a college student and the bizarre poisoning of the head of Cornucopia, a company that supplies armaments to U.S. military. The latter adds further complication in the form of FBI Special Agent Ted Kelly investigating the possible connection between the Cornucopia murder and the mole, code-named Ulysses, within that company who’s been passing top secret technology to the Russians.

Too Many Murders is composed as though it were a novel written in the late 1960s: the prose unflinchingly declares Delmonico’s biases consistent with the day and is well done in that respect. Delmonico, though, is too smart to be believed as merely a small-time police detective. But would he be able to tackle such a complicated scenario otherwise? The scenario is so much larger than life that the novel leans towards a parody of the genre. It’s an enjoyable book for the most part, but maybe there are too many murders.