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The dead wood of this book refers to both old wood salvaging from Michigan’s Lake St. Clair and the incredibly gifted guitars made of them by Jesse Barre, the young, talented, beautiful and recently murdered daughter of an elderly retired country western crooner/songwriter who is asking John Rockne, P.I. for help finding her killer.
The author gives us a wonderfully complex character in John Rockne, a P.I. who is not, as his wife says, Russell Crowe. He’s saddled with a sister who is the Grosse Pointe’s Chief of Police and whose biting remarks about his sleuthing abilities would discourage a lesser mortal. And though John covers the barbs with clownish humor, he’s also a guy that isn’t easily discouraged. After all, as the author shows us, he’s successful at what he does since has a back-log of business waiting for him, that is if he can solve this murder case. And, John will get to the end of the case or die trying, because people keep trying to kill him. From a retired CIA spook, to the low life characters who traffic in stolen property, it seems like everyone is trying to cut off bits and pieces. He doesn’t quit, which is after all, what I’d want if I were were to ask a P.I. to help me find the killer of my daughter. And, because he doesn’t quit, the end has a very special and satisfying twist in it for John.
I very much admire an original story and the ability of the author to make me turn the page again and again. So, for me, never mind that the book is only $.99, I’d happily pay a lot more for another John Rockne mystery.
Reviewed by guest reviewer RP Dahlke, January 2012.