Book Review: The Body on the T by Mike Martin @mike54martin @AnAudiobookworm

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Title: The Body on the T
Series: Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 2
Author: Mike Martin
Narrator: Francis G. Kearney
Publication Date: July 1, 2019

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The Body on the T
Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 2
Mike Martin
Narrated by Francis G. Kearney
Mike Martin, July 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

The Body on the T is the second book in the Windflower mystery series and it follows up on the highly acclaimed premiere, The Walker on the Cape. The story begins when a body washes up on a beach near Grand Bank, Newfoundland. There is no identification on the body and few clues to identify who the person was or where they came from. The case becomes the responsibility of Sgt. Winston Windflower of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and his trusted side-kick, Corporal Eddie Tizzard. 

But this is just the beginning. There is also a devastating accident on the highway and another suspicious death to deal with. Throw in a rogue police officer and an international drug ring operating in the waters off the coast and Windflower’s peaceful world is turned upside down. This time Windflower’s adventures take him to the scenic town of Burin where Captain Cook once patrolled the waters looking for French mercenaries. And to historic St. John’s where he faces down an armed suspect on a parking garage rooftop in the midst of a busy downtown evening.

Along the way Windflower also continues to enjoy the food and home-style hospitality of this part of the world. Cod tongues, pan seared scallops and even figgy duff become part of his diet, and his long list of favorite foods. Windflower may be a long way from his Cree home in Northern Alberta but he has found a new place to love in the fog and mist of Newfoundland.

When a body is found on the beach, the local Mounties, in the persons of Sgt. Winston Windflower and Corporal Eddie Tizzard, are soon on the job, never anticipating where their investigations will take them, especially Windflower. His work on a regional task force looking into a drug trafficking operation would seem to distance him from the local crime but, as it turns out, that might not be so and, soon enough, another body turns up.

In some ways, Windflower reminds me of another law officer, Commissario Guido Brunetti from the series by Donna Leon. Of course, Newfoundland and Venice are worlds apart but the sense of familiarity comes from the glimpses we get of each man’s personal life. With both, I feel as though the man is inviting me into his home and, with Windflower, that also means experiencing a small part of his Cree heritage. He is, indeed, a most interesting character and I’m also just as drawn to his colleague, the irrepressible Eddie Tizzard, and to his girlfriend, Sheila.

All of that is just a portion of Mr. Martin’s inventive and appealing worldbuilding with a setting in the cozy little fishing village that’s picturesque and filled with people who invite the reader in. I live in a coastal town about 2,000 miles to the south and I think I could be happy in Grand Bank if it was just a lot warmer 😉

Mr. Kearney continues to do a fine job with the narration and his various accents and vocalizations are a large part of my enjoyment of this series. I’ll be delighted when the audiobook of the third volume is ready.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2019.

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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About the Author

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home, which was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web was released in 2017 and the newest book in the series is Darkest Before the Dawn which won the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year.

Mike is currently Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

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About the Narrator

Following college and many years as a local entertainer and actor I eventually entered the business world and a career of building and selling multiple successful enterprises.

In 1985 I purchased an aviation business and while building a very successful business also earned multiple movie credits as a helicopter camera ship pilot – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0443932/?ref_=nv_sr_1 – among other services, and flew the camera helicopter for London Weekend Television’s mini series “Piece of Cake” in 1988. I have an extensive aviation background from helicopters through turboprop and jet aircraft, and a deep knowledge of all things aviation.

I have always been an insatiable reader with a love of history – the ultimate story, and anything military – especially if it flies. My evolution into narration and the joy of storytelling is the culmination of many years of a life fully lived, and is reflected in a voice of experience.

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

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Runs Sep. 10th-17th⎮Open internationally

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Book Reviews: Badlands by C.J. Box and Murder on the Quai by Cara Black

badlandsBadlands
C.J. Box
Minotaur Books, , August 2016
ISBN 978-1-3125-4690-8
Mass MarketPaperback

When the art of fracking created an oil boom in North Dakota, it also gave rise to all sorts of complications from housing shortages to drug crime.  What was before a sleepy little town, now arose a bustling area where the sheriff’s staff grew like topsy to keep pace.  The latest addition is Cassie Dewell, hired as chief investigator from her old job in Montana where she became obsessed with the so-called Lizard King, a trucker who preyed and killed prostitutes plying truck stops from coast to coast.

In fact, that’s how we are introduced to Cassie, as she travels to North Carolina to participate in an interrogation of a person suspected of being the perpetrator just before she assumes her new duties.  When she arrives in Bakken County, ND, the sheriff confides in Cassie his suspicion that all is not well in the department, and asks her to undertake an investigation by herself without telling her why.  Meanwhile, a shipment of a large quantity of drugs is delivered by car, which is forced off the road by a rival gang, and a  duffel bag is flung wide of the accident scene and recovered by a 12-year-old newspaper delivery boy.

As the plot unfolds, Cassie is in the middle of it all, making assumptions, detecting, analyzing, and finally guessing that the boy is the key to it all, except for the possible corruption that might exist in the law enforcement personnel (which of course is related to the drug gangs).  The author demonstrates his reputation for writing novels with excellent characterizations and providing detailed environmental descriptions.  When the outside temperature falls to 20 and 30 degrees below freezing, the reader almost feels compelled to turn up the heat.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, October 2016.

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murder-on-the-quaiMurder on the Quai
An Aimée Leduc Investigation #16
Cara Black
Soho Crime, June 2016
ISBN 978-1-616-95624-0
Hardcover

After 15 Aimée Leduc mysteries, Cara Black turned her attention backward in time to the start of Aimee’s career, providing a back story to her beginnings as a detective, and introducing some of the basics which inhabit subsequent novels, namely how she met Rene Friant, her partner in Leduc Detective, and acquired Miles Davis, her bichon frise.  At the time, Aimée was a first-year medical student, hating every moment.

Then one day while Aimée was in her father’s office, as he was about to leave for Berlin to obtain the Stasi file on his renegade wife, who had  disappeared years before, a distant relation asks him to find a young woman who perhaps was the last person to see her father before he was murdered.  Instead, Aimée takes the case on herself as her father had refused to do so before he left.

From that point on, all the attributes of an Aimée Leduc mystery flow:  Aimée getting into all kinds of danger; all the flavor and smells of Paris streets and neighborhoods; the give-and-take between Aimée and her godfather and high police official Morbier; Aimée’s passion for discounted fashion clothes; among other common features of the series.  Since it was her first case, the progress is not as smooth as future investigations, as she stumbles and learns, but unquestionably the book is recommended as an introduction to her subsequent adventures.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, July 2016.

Book Review: The Inside Passage by Carl Brookins

The Inside PassageThe Inside Passage
Carl Brookins
Brookins Books, February 2016
ISBN 978-0-9853906-7-9
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Murder, mystery and adventure on the restless ocean waters off the rugged coast of British Columbia. Seattle PR executive Michael Tanner sails to Desolation Sound with his wife and their close friend. It’s a relaxing, shakedown cruise for three amateur sailors. On a foggy morning disaster strikes and Tanner stands accused of negligence. With no help from the authorities, Tanner sets out to find the people who murdered his wife and her friend.

Back in 2000, Carl Brookins launched the first entry in his Michael Tanner series which focused on a Seattle-based public relations executive who sailed as a hobby. Inner Passages was published by Top Publications and was followed by 4 more books. Now, the author has re-released a revised, updated edition under the title The Inside Passage and I’m very glad he did; in the ensuing 16 years, there is no doubt he has become a more accomplished writer and this new edition is all the better for it.

When a much larger boat runs down his sailboat, killing his wife and their friend, Michael Tanner becomes nearly obsessed with tracking it down, believing it to have been a deliberate attack. The authorities insist it was an accident and Michael’s friends and colleagues watch worriedly as he puts his life and career aside to search for the yacht and answers. Some people believe Michael was at fault and, while he knows in his heart the deaths of Beth and Alice were intentional, he can’t help the feelings of inadequacy and guilt. He isn’t alone, though—his partners, Jeremiah and Perry, stand beside him in his quest.

The beauty of this book lies in the author’s clear love and knowledge of sailing, evoking the lure of nautical experiences that simply can’t be fully understood by those, like me, who have limited exposure to life on the water. His descriptions of the fog…the loneliness and isolation as well as the creepiness that comes naturally with not being able to see your surroundings…put me right on that doomed boat. Another element of the story that I found unusual and really sensible is the passing of time. This is no mystery solved in two days or a week; months, even years, go by and that, to me, is really logical when it comes to an amateur investigation. This also allows for the introduction of a new love interest, Mary Whitney, without it seeming as though things were rushed.

Mr. Brookins drew me into Michael’s world and his need to find the answers that will bring justice for Beth and Alice and, perhaps, peace for himself. I like this new and improved Michael Tanner and hope to see much more of him in the future.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2016.

Book Review: Devil’s Kitchen by Clark Lohr

Devil's KitchenDevil’s Kitchen
Clark Lohr
Oak Tree Press, June 2011
ISBN 978-1-61009-012-4
Trade Paperback

The discovery of a severed head in the Tucson landfill draws Pima County Sheriff’s deputy Manny Aguilar into a case pitting a Mexican drug lord and a less than ethical land developer into what almost becomes a war. Murder, kidnapping, and drugs fuel a power struggle between factions. Manny’s going to have a real fight on his hands to bring these powerful people to justice—as long as they don’t (and it’s not for a lack of trying) kill him first. Things turn grim when he discovers half the men in the sheriff’s department are working for the other side.

Lohr has created an interesting character in Manny Aguilar, a half Yaqui, half Latino detective who relies on his Yaqui grandmother’s witchery for help in solving the case. Indispensable at watching his back is his girlfriend, a fiery redhead named Reina who showers him with great sex. He’s beginning to think he can’t manage without her.

The plot is full of twists and turns. The writing is sharp and crisp. Characterization is spot on, while the action keeps the pages turning. The insertion of a side plot involving Southwestern ecology and water problems makes the novel as a whole seem fresh and new. Lots of surprises here. Enough to make you hope the wait for the next Manny Aguilar novel is not long in coming.

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

Book Reviews: Stagestruck by Peter Lovesey, Ringer by Brian Wiprud, Infernal Angels by Loren Estleman, No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie, and The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman

Stagestruck
Peter Lovesey
Soho Crime, June 2011
ISBN: 978-1-56947-947-6
Hardcover

What a pleasure to find a book which includes two of my favorite things:  a crackling good mystery, filled with humor, and a tribute to the theater. As the title might imply, the author obviously has much respect for the theater, with both a lower case “t” and upper case as well [see below].  His protagonist, on the other hand, not so much. In the newest book featuring Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond, head of Bath’s CID, the reader learns that Diamond has always suffered from a phobia, what the author terms a “deep unease’ and resulting in what can only be described as panic attacks where the theater is concerned.

Diamond is forced to confront his fear when he is called to the 200-year-old Theatre Royal, in Bath, which some refer to as “an itsy-bitsy provincial theatre” and others as “the prettiest theatre in the kingdom,” when on opening night, the celebrity pop star with the unlikely name of Clarion Calhoun who has been cast as the lead in a production of “I Am a Camera” is stricken, just after the curtain goes up.  She is apparently the victim of something which has caused third degree burns to her face and upper chest, precisely where her stage makeup had been applied some moments before, effectively destroying her career, not to mention her looks.  Things get even dicier when two days later a dead body is found in the theater.

The novel is thoroughly enjoyable, with the last twenty or so pages keeping the reader in great suspense as the culprit is unmasked.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, October 2011.

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Ringer
Brian Wiprud
Minotaur, July 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-60189-8
Hardcover

Ringer is a sly tale revolving around an encounter between a 65-year-old billionaire and a Mexican man of less than savory background.  A caper novel with a plot arising out of a stew comprised of an ancient ring which may or may not be blessed and/or cursed, a spoiled and willful 19-year-old girl, a Greenwich Village palmist and her assorted relatives, and a smattering of several truisms purportedly from the mouth of Abraham Lincoln, among many other things, make up this consistently delightful concoction.

The protagonist is Morty Martinez, introduced to readers in the author’s Feelers, Brooklyn native and former house cleaner, who now considers himself as La Paz gentry now that he is living in Mexico again and he has a few million in the bank.  The aforementioned teenager is [ironically] named Purity Grant, who has a mutually hateful relationship with her stepfather, the billionaire.  Their toxic dynamic fuels thoughts of murder as the easiest way out of matters financial and emotional, by both parties, and somehow Morty becomes the designated hit man of each.  The mantra invoked from time to time, by each of the major players, is Earn Destiny, and they all go about trying to achieve that end in a manner which seems most logical to those involved, as opposed, perhaps, to anyone in the ‘normal’ world, such as, e.g., the reader.

Purity’s speech is regularly peppered with acronyms, as though her mind is permanently in text-speak.  [Being in the minority that is not thoroughly conversant with that particular mind-set, I have to admit to being unable to decipher them all.  Typing this, it only just dawned on me, e.g., that “ITWYT” means “if that’s what you think.” “NHNF” and “YGAGA m9” still elude me, as does in general the concept of people actually using these in everyday, that is to say verbal, speech.  Hopefully there is nothing profane in any of that.]  But that only contributes to the enjoyment of this zany tale, which had me smiling or laughing aloud throughout.  I have to admit I have not yet read Feelers, but will try to correct that without much further ado.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, November 2011.

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Infernal Angels
Loren Estleman
Forge, July 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7653-1955-5
Hardcover

In the twenty-first novel in the wonderful Amos Walker series, Loren Estleman once again captures the spirit of Detroit, as much a character in the novel as it is the mise en scene.  As the author describes it, it is a city which “continued its slug’s crawl toward bleak oblivion.”   Although the tale begins innocuously enough, when Walker is hired to recover 25 stolen cable-TV converter boxes, it is soon apparent that there is more going on than meets the eye, when two people with whom Walker has spoken turn up dead, within hours of those meetings.

Walker is undaunted, and pursues the case with even greater zeal.  He is no longer invincible, he admits:  “In the pursuit of my profession I’d been shot, beaten, coldcocked, drugged, and threatened with death. . . It would be a good joke on a lot of bad people if it was a heart episode that took me.”  The title derives from the line, soon after the second body is discovered, that of a man Walker had known for years:  “Once you’d made the decision to live on the dark side of the moon, all your friends were infernal angels at best.”

His descriptions of several characters are exquisite portraits.  Of a detective:  “He’d lost flesh from age and the weight of the world, pasting skin to bone like shrink-wrap.  His boys were grown and married, one of them was still speaking to him, and his wife, who earned more money than he did working shorter hours, was often away on business.  Home for him was just a place to change horses between shifts;” of a colleague:  “His face was the same vintage as mine, but he ironed his more often and packed it in ice overnight;” a building caretaker “an ambulatory dandelion gone to seed.”  The prose is equal parts elegance and street.

There are perfect fleeting references on such eclectic topics as jazz musicians, politics and politicians past and present, and The Snows of Kilimanjaro, as well as little-known facts on historical figures as diverse as Black Bart and Marcus Garvey, and nostalgia for Tigers Stadium.

A fast-paced and consistently witty entry in this terrific series, it is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, November 2011.

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No Mark Upon Her
Deborah Crombie
William Morrow, February 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-199061-8
Hardcover

In the opening pages of Deborah Crombie’s 14th novel, DCI Rebecca [“Becca”] Meredith, an Olympic contender and a senior officer in West London’s Major Crimes unit, is found dead in the waters of the Thames near her home in the town of Henley, 35 miles from London.  The events that follow take place, amazingly, over a period of about a week.  I say ’amazingly’ because so much happens, in a terrifically plotted novel.  The case falls to Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, of Scotland Yard’s Murder Investigation Team, with some aspects of it falling to his bride, Gemma James, DI with the Notting Hill Police.

The book is filled with wonderfully drawn characters, including not only both the protagonists but also Kincaid’s partner, Sgt. Doug Cullen, about to become a first-time homeowner and nervous at the prospect; Gemma’s colleague, Melody Talbot; Becca’s ex-husband, Freddy; Kiernan Connolly and Tavie Larssen, members of the SAR [Search and Rescue], or K-9, team as well as its four-legged members, Finn, a Labrador retriever and Tosh, a German shepherd, every bit a part of the plot as are their human partners.

The common thread among several of the characters is a love of – in fact, a passion for – rowing or, to be more specific, sculling, a very specific skill employing the use of sleek racing shells, apparently a world of its own.  Just how much so is made very clear through the author’s use of quotes, preceding the start of most chapters, from various publications on the subject, as well as Ms. Crombie’s own prose in the early pages, describing the victim shortly before she is killed:  “she sat backwards on a sliver of carbon fiber narrower than her body, inches above the water, and that only her skill and determination kept her fragile craft from the river’s dark grasp.”

The James/Kincaid family dynamic of ‘his’ [Kit], ‘hers’ [Toby – – their respective 14-year-old sons], and ‘theirs’ [Charlotte, the mixed-race 3-year-old foster child they are planning to formally adopt], is a constantly active one that makes the protags’ personal lives every bit as engaging as their professional ones.

The author comments “Things were always so much more complicated than they appeared on the surface,” and employs mini-cliffhangers throughout, maximizing the suspense, as well as some shocking revelations, producing several OMG moments.  But I’ll leave those discoveries to the readers of this highly-recommended novel.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, December 2011.

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The Most Dangerous Thing
Laura Lippman
William Morrow, September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-170651-6
Hardcover

The new standalone novel from Laura Lippman was, to this reader, unlike anything this wonderful author had written to this point. [Among her more recent ones, I’d Know You Anywhere and What the Dead Know still stand out in my memory and resonate with me.]  The present work is not really a mystery [although there is a death early on in the book] nor procedural, but instead a series of in-depth character studies which will be difficult to match.

The author takes her time recreating and juxtaposing scenes from the past with those of the present, from the time when “everything was perfect until the moment it wasn’t,” in the lives of five youngsters in their early teens, three brothers and two young girls.  Ultimately each of these, along with their parents and siblings and extended families, will have their own chapters, describing events which took place in 1980, in their native Baltimore, with p.o.v. changes from one character to another and from those early years to the present time, when most of them have grown children of their own, all of it shaped by one pivotal ‘incident’ [insert your own euphemism] which changes all of their lives forever.  The reality of the events of that night is different for each of them, children and parents alike.  And ultimately it is about secrets kept, or not.

One of the three brothers, Gordon (“Go-Go”) Halloran, nine years old in 1980 and always the most reckless of the three, although presently two years sober, leaves the bar at which he has just fallen off the wagon and does not make it home alive, crashing into a wall at about 100 mph. There is a question about whether it was a tragic accident, or something somehow worse.

I found this book [in which, btw, Tess Monaghan makes a cameo appearance] a departure for this author, and very thought-provoking. I suspect it too will stay in my memory for a long while. Parenthetically, I loved Ms. Lippman’s description of one perpetually angry character who, when counting to ten, started at nine.  But there are many memorable moments, and personalities, here.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, December 2011.