Monday, January 30, 2012

Carl Brookins Reviews The Good, The Bad

Veteran Minnesota mystery writer and reviewer Carl Brookins has checked in with this review of The Good, The Bad and The Murderous:

This is Campbell's seventh novel of crime fiction. There are a number of strings to the plot and a sub-plot or two as well. They are all nicely balanced, in that the main crime, murder and Medicare fraud remains at the center of attention. Sid Chance is a private investigator in Tennessee. His occasional assistant is a wealthy ex-cop improbably named Jaz LeMieux. LeMieux has inherited a successful retail travel business. In this story, she's besieged by erroneous reports of having made damaging racial slurs and as the book develops she shares some risks with her buddy, Sid.

Chance is a former Special Forces veteran, a former Forestry ranger and small town police chief. Now he's dipping an experienced toe into different waters as he establishes himself as a private investigator. When a young man, fresh out of prison, is arrested for a murder, the case appears to be a slam dunk. But the accused man has a fervent supporter in his grandmother and she appeals to Jaz who turns to Sid. And as Sid remarks, "Do I sense Messers Pro and Bono arriving?"

Things spiral out of control as the motive for the murder becomes much more than originally considered and both Sid and Jaz are targeted. The writing is straightforward and very believable. There's plenty of detail but it's rarely more that we need. Characters, setting, plot points are all rational and nicely handled. Readers won't finish this novel musing over revealed heavy philosophical truths, but they will have a bang-up satisfying time skulking about and sliding through dark tunnels with Sid Chance and Jaz LeMieux.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Librarian Janet Ohles Reviews Good, Bad

Janet A. Ohles, Associate Director of Library Services at Western Connecticut State University, wrote the following review of the second Sid Chance mystery, The Good, The Bad and The Murderous:

Djuan Burden, recently released from a prison term for murder, is in the wrong place at the wrong time. He finds himself arrested and again charged with murder. Sid Chance agrees to assist his friend Jaz LeMieux in proving Burden's innocence, although at the outset he believes him guilty. Within the first few chapters, we are sure that good will prevail. And, it does. But, how many will die first? As the two friends delve into the investigation and get close to finding out the truth, others fall victim to the killer.

This novel deals with the serious issue of one cop on the take. Yet, it manages to honor, acknowledge and respect the majority of the force -- the ethical, good cops. What makes this novel especially appealing is that it addresses a flawed character and allows good to triumph over evil -- without the pitfall into which many authors fall -- it does not preach.

What the novel does, and does well, is to engage the reader on a variety of levels. The character development is superb. Hard decisions are made by realistic characters. Are these really just characters in a book? They seemed so real to me. In my mind's eye, each character has a face, a body, a voice.

The plot development is equally well done. The plot moves along and keeps one engaged. Finally, an author whose plot and characters are strong. They do not require the addition of contrived boiler plate romances or terrifying scenes. Nor will you find any boiler plate scenes in the book.

Like a fine wine, a very satisfying read. Sid Chance is definitely worth investigating, be prepared to fall in love with the characters. I did. And, now, I am reading the first Sid Chance novel and awaiting the next.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bill Crider's Ebook Triple Play

The first three books in Bill Crider's PI Truman Smith series are now available for the Kindle at $2.99. The author of the popular Sheriff Dan Rhodes mysteries,  now numbering eighteen, started the Tru Smith series in 1991 with Dead on the Island. It was nominated for the Shamus Award for Best First Private Eye Novel.

In this first novel, Smith returns to his hometown of Galveston, Texas, to investigate the disappearance of his sister. He gets sidetracked by an old  buddy from his past, who wants hm to look into another missing girl. Tru thinks she may have run away until her boyfriend shows up dead. More bodies and an attack on Truman keep things lively. 

Publisher's Weekly said Smith was "another well-drawn protagonist, this time a moody, introspective PI in the finest tradition, who works in a seamy city smoldering with old and dangerous secrets."

The second in the series now available as an ebook is Gator Kill. When a family friend who is protective of wildlife finds the butchered carcass of an alligator on his property, he persuades Truman to find who was responsible. It turns out to be somewhat more difficult than the semiretired PI's usual job as a house painter. Publisher's Weekly described the plot this way:

"Soon the brooding gumshoe is stumbling over the bodies of dead humans, is shot at and run down by a souped-up four-by-four as he's embroiled in a plot complete with crooked police, a possible land-grabbing scheme and bad guys who, but for their lack of redeeming good nature, could be Damon Runyon inventions."

The third book is titled When Old Men Die. Tru Smith is called on by his old friend Dino from book one to look into another missing person, a vagrant called Outside Harry who has connections with Dino's family. Smith gets shot at and roughed up and some other characters wind up dead while the action uncovers some unsavory business taking place around Galveston.

As Crider himself describes it, "Does anybody care when old men die? Private Eye Truman Smith does, and he's going to find out who's responsible, even if it kills him."

If you're ready for some good tough PI adventures on your Kindle, check out the Truman Smith series.