Book Reviews: The Good, the Bad and the Murderous by Chester D. Campbell, The Other Romanian by Anne Argula, and The Bad Wife by Jacqueline Seewald

The Good, the Bad and the MurderousThe Good, The Bad and The Murderous
A Sid Chance Thriller
Chester D. Campbell
Nightshadows Press, November 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9846044-4-9
Trade Paperback

The principal strength of this novel is its muscular complexity. It starts out with a murder accusation against a recently released murderer. He’s the perfect patsy to deflect a federal investigation of a vast fraud against the government. Piece by piece the author introduces additional quirks and mis-directions, until both investigators become targets of a vicious conspiracy.

The second Sid Chance detective story brings us more insight into the mental workings between former police chief, now fledgling private investigator, Sid Chance, and wealthy business-woman-crusader-about-town, Jasmine LeMieux. Each brings special skills and experience to their cases and add dimensions of humor and rhythm to the story.

The novel is a well-constructed fast-moving story told with skill and thoroughness that carries with it several thoughtful lessons well told. An enjoyable mystery.

 

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, November 2013.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Other RomanianThe Other Romanian
Anne Argula
Pleasure Boat Studio, June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-929-35585-3
Trade Paperback

The author had me from the first page of her new book (in point of fact, from the first paragraph), written with consistent wit and clever prose. The protagonist, who goes only by the single name “Quinn,” is a private detective in Seattle, Washington. An ex-cop in LA and then Spokane, and recently divorced, she has some intriguing tics: she dislikes cell phones and uses them as seldom as possible; believes in reincarnation; has, on the ledge of her office window, a plastic snake named Stanley to scare away pigeons; and her closest “friends” are three homeless Native American young men (or “the tribals,” as she calls them) whose hangout of choice is a bench on the street below her apartment window, to whom she regularly brings sandwiches for their lunch or dinner.

As the book opens, Quinn receives a call from Sgt. Beckman, “the fourth best cop in the Seattle Police Department,” from a crime scene featuring the body of a man, badly beaten and then shot in the back of the head, whose pockets contained nothing except a matchbook upon which was written her cellphone number. When she arrives at the scene, she sees the body of a man she has never seen before. Shortly thereafter she receives a mysterious and inexplicable text message from someone apparently named “Bruno.” Both of these things involving the cell phone of a woman who never uses her cell phone, nor gives out its number.

On the same day, she receives a call from a woman identifying herself as the (third) wife of a man who had hired Quinn over two years previously, with whom she had a not-quite-completely-businesslike relationship, who had taken off on his Harley one night nearly 2 years ago and had never been seen again. The police were convinced that he had ridden off a mountain road into the ocean and drowned. The woman is convinced he is still alive, and hires Quinn to track him down. The book has an enticing hook, in a preface-like quote from an article which ostensibly appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in November of 2008, about an 18 k. bookmark which had surfaced, apparently given by Eva Braun to Adolph Hitler which had been stolen in 2002.

The reader should not be lulled by the leisurely pace at which the novel proceeds, because as the end draws near, things shift into a completely different gear. The book is an absolute delight, and is highly recommended.

 

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, January 2014.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The Bad WifeThe Bad Wife
A Kim Reynolds Mystery
Jacqueline Seewald
Perfect Crime Books, March 2014
ISBN 978-1-935797-56-2
Trade Paperback

Kim Reynolds is back in her old job as a reference librarian at the university, and Detective Mike Gardner, with whom she just became engaged, is eager to get married–until his supposedly ex-wife shows up. Turns out Evelyn never signed the final divorce papers and has moved back into Mike’s house–in a platonic relationship, of course. Mike is anxious to be rid of her once and for all, and is plenty vocal about it. When Evelyn is murdered, the main suspect is obvious. Mike is soon jailed, even though with a little digging by Kim and Mike’s partner, Bert St. Croix, several more people with a grudge against Evelyn show up. The problem is in getting the evidence when all the big wheels in town would rather condemn an innocent man.

The mystery is good. There are plenty of suspects with stories to work through. I found a bit of a problem relating to Evelyn’s murder. She is a villainous victim that makes one root for the murderer. Of course Kim, nor Bert, are about to root for anyone but Mike. I actually found Mike a bit weak. He surprised me when he kept flapping his mouth when silence would’ve been more prudent, and allowed himself to be blindsided. Careless, in a cop.

I like Kim, with her latent psychic abilities. I also like Bert, tough, loyal, so very human. Other than the above mentioned quibbles, the story moves right along, with lots of suspense, a few red herrings, and an action filled ending.

 

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, March 2014.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.