Book Review: Down to No Good by Earl Javorsky—and a Giveaway!

Down to No Good
Charlie Miner Book 2
Earl Javorsky
The Story Plant, November 2017
ISBN 978-1-61188-253-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Private investigator Charlie Miner, freshly revived from his own murder, gets a call from Homicide Detective Dave Putnam. Self-styled “psychic to the stars” Tamara Gale has given crucial information about three murders, and the brass thinks it makes the Department look bad. Dave wants Charlie to help figure out the angle, since he has first-hand experience with the inexplicable. Trouble is, Charlie, just weeks after his full-death experience, once again has severe cognitive problems and may get them both killed.

Charlie Miner is a most unusual man. He’s a private investigator, a single father to a teenaged girl, a drug addict and, oh yeah, he can’t die. That last is because of an experimental therapy that resulted in a very unexpected side effect. Not many people know this about Charlie but his friend, Dave, does and has pretty much accepted this state of affairs even if he doesn’t understand it and finds it really hard to believe. Dave has his own failings but he and Charlie are good friends.

Dave asks Charlie to help him look into a psychic, Tamara, who has raised red flags about herself with her statements about some murders. When another investigator who may have had information about Tamara is murdered, the stakes get higher and Charlie’s ability to leave his own body may be just what is needed to get to the bottom of who Tamara is and the truth behind several killings.

One of my biggest pet peeves about crime fiction comes into play when the tale is told in first person present tense and that’s the case here. It’s impossible for me to become really engaged because I’m so distracted at the idea that I’m supposed to believe the protagonist is telling me what’s happening in real time. What, is he speaking to me as he goes about his investigative business? Because of this, I can’t say I was totally enthralled but I did like Charlie and Dave and their weird story. In fact, I’d say the author’s strength really lies in his characters, likeable and not.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2017.

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An Excerpt from Down to No Good

Chapter 2

Wednesday, August 31

Dave Putnam had been a cop for over thirty years, but nothing had prepared him for the last thirty-six hours.

The whole fiasco had started with Charlie Miner, whom he had known and even occasionally worked with over the years, calling him and asking for a favor. Offering him a deal. Twisting his arm a bit with a preposterous story, telling him he’d prove it and that Dave could take several murders off the books. Celebrities. Big money. An investment scam.

And, against his better judgment, Dave had gone along. Two days ago, he had transported Charlie’s daughter over the border from Tijuana—the favor—and that night met Charlie at a restaurant to hear him pitch his case. Later, when he got Charlie’s text, he went to the agreed-upon location to back Charlie’s play and round up the perpetrators.

In the meantime, he’d had a few too many. It made him sloppy, and it made him late. So, instead of calling for backup and showing up fresh and ready, he played cowboy. He took his biggest gun, an unregistered Desert Eagle .50 caliber that his father had given him, out of his trunk and left the restaurant parking lot with the gun on the passenger seat, squinting out at the road and concentrating on staying in his lane.

He got lost in Santa Monica Canyon and had to backtrack to the Coast Highway and try again. This time he wound up on Amalfi Drive, heading up toward Pacific Palisades. The frustration called for a hit off the pint he kept under the seat.

When he finally got to the site, he came around the side of the house and saw a man with a silenced gun standing over two bodies. One of them was Charlie Miner’s. When he saw the silencer swing up to point at him, Dave fired. The bullet blew the man into a hole that had clearly just been dug in the yard. The noise was ridiculous, but it clarified the situation: Dave hoisted Charlie’s body over his shoulder and started back toward his car. As an afterthought, he went back and picked up one of several SentrySafe H2300 cases nestled in the dirt.

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Now he was sitting in his apartment, watching Charlie Miner’s corpse, studying it as if for a clue, an answer, perhaps, to the mystery of why he, Dave, had behaved so badly. Leaving the scene of an officer-involved shooting. Stealing from a crime scene. Hiding a body.

The first two he could justify: he was tanked, and the case he took out of the ground just looked interesting.

But taking Charlie Miner’s body, with three bloody holes in its face, and dumping it in the back seat of his car, and then driving home and carrying it to his apartment—there was no explaining that.

Except . . .

Dave had known there was something off about Charlie. Not just off, but weird. More than weird—inexplicable. Dave had dug up morgue photos of an unidentified DOA, gunshot wounds, that had somehow disappeared. And though he had denied it, Charlie Miner was the guy in the photos.

And so the vigil. Turn the phone ringer off. Stick to beer. Wash the blood off Charlie’s face. Watch the body. Nod off now and then.

Watch the body.

It happened at noon. He was about to doze when he saw a finger twitch. Then the fingers on both hands flexed, curled into fists, and flexed again.

Excerpt from Down to No Good by Earl Javorsky. Copyright © 2017 by Earl Javorsky. Reproduced with permission from The Story Plant. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Daniel Earl Javorsky was born in Berlin and immigrated to the US. He has been, among other things, a delivery boy, musician, product rep in the chemical entertainment industry, university music teacher, software salesman, copy editor, proofreader, and author of two previous novels, Down Solo and Trust Me.

He is the black sheep of a family of high artistic achievers.

              

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10/30 Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads
10/31 Guest post @ Mythical Books
11/02 Showcase @ Chill and read
11/03 Excerpt @ Suspense Magazine
11/06 Guest post @ Writers and Authors
11/06 Showcase @ The Bookworm Lodge
11/08 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf
11/09 Reviewe @ Cheryls Book Nook
11/10 Guest post @ Loris Reading Corner
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11/14 Interview @ Cozy Up With Kathy
11/15 Showcase @ 411 on Books, Authors, and Publishing News
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11/20 Review @ CMash Reads
11/21 Interview @ CMash Reads
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11/27 Blog Talk Radio w/ Fran Lewis
11/27 Review @ Just Reviews
11/29 Interview @ A Blue Million Books
12/01 Review @ Its All About the Book
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12/05 Review @ Quiet Fury Books
12/06 Review @ Lets Talk About Books
12/12 Review @ Lauras Interests
12/30 Review @ Bound 4 Escape
01/05/18 Review @ Celticladys Reviews

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Giveaway

To enter the drawing for an ebook
copy of Down Solo, 1st in the
series,
leave a comment below.
The winning
name will be drawn
Wednesday evening,
November 15th,
and the book will be
sent out after
the tour ends in early January.

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Book Review: Jimmy and Fay by Michael Mayo

Jimmy and Fay
The Jimmy Quinn Mysteries #3
Michael Mayo
Open Road/Mysterious Press, October 2016
ISBN 978-1-5040-3607-8
Trade Paperback

Jimmy and Fay reads like one of those old gangster films from the thirties, mixing noir and glamour with a touch of the illegal thrown in to keep it interesting. Jimmy Quinn runs a speakeasy in New York City; his girlfriend Connie Nix and right-hand man Arch Malloy keep the business going. Someone has made dirty photos of the film “King Kong” but anyone can see the woman in the photos in not Fay Wray. Even so, the studio is anxious to make the story go away. They will pay $6000 to the blackmailers and Jimmy is tapped to be the go-between for ten percent.

“Jimmy the Stick” is not your usual good guy battling evil. He’s short, has a bum leg, and sometimes uses his cane as a weapon. The story focuses on the seedy world of stag films, corrupt cops and blackmail. Real life gangsters Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano provide background for the world of Prohibition in 1933 New York City. Plenty of colorful slang and details from the time period add to the solid mystery at the center of this story.

The author writes on film for the Washington Post and the Roanoke Times, and is the author of American Murder: Criminals, Crime and the Media. This is the third in the Jimmy Quinn series.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, March 2017.

Book Reviews: Grave Consequences by David and Aimee Thurlo and Night Life by David C. Taylor

Grave ConsequencesGrave Consequences
A Charlie Henry Mystery #2
David and Aimee Thurlo
Minotaur Books, April 2015
ISBN: 978-1- 250-02900-3
Hardcover

Charlie Henry and his sidekick, Gordon, are ex-Special Forces soldiers, now partners in the FOB Pawnshop in Albuquerque, NM, but civilian life hardly is a retiring one for either of them. Trouble seems to find them on a regular basis in this second of a series of action-packed adventure.  Mysteries and mischief seem to just walk into their store.  In this latest story, it begins when a young woman pawns a valuable Navajo necklace.

Soon three gunmen enter the pawnshop in an attempt to retrieve the bracelet. And a shootout results in one of them dead and another wounded, with Charlie and Gordon none the less for wear, but off and running to find out what prompted the invasion.  This leads to a wild goose chase all around the New Mexico city with violence galore until they learn what lies behind they mystery of the bracelet and the death of its creator.

While the plot follows a traditional pattern of a police procedural, and there are plenty of cops involved, with enormous assistance from Charlie and Gordon, the novel really centers on the swashbuckling duo and their antics, rather than detecting clues to solve a crime or murder.  And there is plenty of this type of action to satisfy the most bloodthirsty reader.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, February 2016.

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Night LifeNight Life
A Michael Cassidy Novel #1
David C. Taylor
Forge Books, March 2015
ISBN 978-0-7653-7483-7
Hardcover

Michael Cassidy is a detective in New York City’s midtown precinct during the 1950’s in the era of McCarthyism.  He is a dramatic character drawn in the classic mold of a tough hombre.  His godfather is the mafia stalwart Frank Costello, his father an immigrant who started with less than nothing and rose to become a well-known Broadway producer.  Cassidy picks up a murder case, the victim actually a dancer in the show his father is producing and now in rehearsal.

One murder leads to three others, and Michael becomes involved in a web of conspiracies involving the FBI and the CIA, and with Roy Cohn and J. Edgar Hoover, no less.  Cassidy is taken off the murder case by higher-ups, but true to fashion, he persists.  Faced with complications of monumental proportions his doggedness continues.

This novel, a debut, is excellent.  The background of New York City just after World War II is superb, and the atmosphere of the Red Scare years and McCarthyism is very real, especially for those who lived through the period.  The book has much to recommend it, and indeed is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, December 2015.

Book Reviews: The Guise of Another by Allen Eskens and License to Dill by Mary Ellen Hughes

The Guise of AnotherThe Guise of Another
Allen Eskens
Seventh Street Books, October 2015
ISBN: 978-1-63388-076-4
Trade Paperback

Following the success of his debut novel, The Life We Bury, author Allen Eskens has produced another winner. Intelligently constructed and almost perfectly written, this dark, dangerous and fast-paced noir thriller will be an example to study for budding writers in the genre.

The story begins with an auto accident in which a man abruptly dies on a highway in Minneapolis. Award-winning detective Alexander Rupert, facing a potentially troubling appointment with a grand jury, suddenly discovers a possible way out of his dilemma. If he can solve the mystery of the deceased James Putnam, who appeared to have fallen to earth fully formed a mere three years before, he might escape serious censure.

His case takes him to New York, and entanglement with a company engaged in government contracted black ops. He returns to Minneapolis, carrying the seeds of an insidious conspiracy. The plot is up-to-date, the action is relentless and the characters are consistent in their language and actions. While the outcomes, different for different characters, may become fairly obvious, the author is clever and fresh in his resolutions. This is an excellent novel and will be welcomed by readers of black arts, conspiracy theories, and multiple merciless murder.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, December 2015.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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License to DillLicense to Dill
A Pickled & Preserved Mystery #2
Mary Ellen Hughes
Berkley Prime Crime, February 2015
ISBN 978-0-425-26246-7
Mass Market Paperback

Piper Lamb fled her job at a New York state tax office and opened a shop, “Piper’s Picklings,” in upstate Cloverdale. She sells pickles, spices, and canning equipment, has met Will Burchett—a tall, blond Christmas tree farmer—and life couldn’t be better.

The town is excited about the arrival of a semi-pro Italian soccer team, which will play a tournament against an all star team from Cloverdale. It turns out the coach of the Italian team was once an exchange student at the local high school, and all the high school girls had a crush on him. All the boys envied his position as a star on the soccer team.

All these years later, he’s still a flirt, and stirs up resentment among the women and their husbands. When the Italian’s body is found in a farmer’s dill field, everyone suspects a jealous man did the deed. Piper is shocked by the murder, and her shock grows when her ex-fiance, lawyer Scott Littleton, comes to town with a surprising announcement. For fans of foodie mysteries, like Laura Childs and Diane Mott Davidson. Of course, recipes are included.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, September 2015.

Book Reviews: Faces of the Dead by Suzanne Weyn and Trouble in Rooster Paradise by T. W. Emory

Faces of the DeadFaces of the Dead
Suzanne Weyn
Scholastic Press, September 2014
ISBN: 978-0-545-42531-5
Hardcover

When we were teens, didn’t we all have moments when we wanted to slip out of our reality and be someone else? Who didn’t want to swap with a pro baseball player or the lead singer of a hot rock group? In this book, we have the reverse situation. Marie-Therese, daughter of Marie Antoinette, slips into the streets of Paris at the height of the French Revolution after she and her best friend, Ernestine, daughter of a chambermaid, discover they look so much alike they can switch places at will.

Desperate to see Paris and understand what’s going on outside of her sheltered life at the Versailles Palace, she rides into the city with a dour servant and is shocked to learn, first from him, but then from many others, that her beloved parents are hated by most of the citizenry. Despite this, Marie-Therese can’t stop becoming more fascinated with city life. Her interest becomes even more intense when she meets and starts really liking a poor boy named Henri, who likes her in return and shows her many aspects of city life. Before long, the two of them are almost inseparable and when the revolution spills out of Paris and surrounds the palace, she is trapped in Paris. Henri works at Dr. Curtius’ Wax Museum and it is here that Marie-Therese stays after her family is taken prisoner.

Anna-Marie, a woman who came to the palace to teach Marie-Therese’s aunt her art skills, works there, making most of the life-like images in wax. She recognizes the princess, but doesn’t give her away. Meanwhile, almost everyone in Paris has gone mad and the guillotine in a nearby square is lopping off heads every day. One of the tasks of those working at the wax museum is to gather heads of the notable and famous right after they’re severed and make life-masks for the revolutionaries. Every day, Marie-Therese approaches the square with trepidation, wondering whether she’ll be confronted with the head of one of her family members.

Meanwhile, Anna-Marie and Rose (later to become Josephine, wife of Napoleon), are working on a way to save some of the condemned by using some of the magic Rose learned growing up in the Caribbean. Whether they succeed is a good plot hook.

This is not a perfect read, but certainly a gripping one. Teen readers who like action and intrigue with some history mixed in and who aren’t averse to gory details will enjoy this story. There are several passages that will help them feel like they were right in the middle of an insane moment in French history. The author provides some insight into what was altered and the history of many of the characters who lived during the French Revolution in her notes at the end of the story.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, October 2015.

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Trouble in Rooster ParadiseTrouble In Rooster Paradise
T. W. Emory
Coffeetown Press, July 2015
ISBN: 978-1-60381-996-1
Trade Paperback

An unusual plot, a different handling, a charming cast but it all goes a bit awry due to incessant if unrealized lechery. An old-time P.I. named Gunnar Nilson, the rooster of the title, is enticed by a comely rehab center volunteer to recall some of his many adventures in crime solving after he returned from the army in the Second World War. Gunnar Nilson, the narrator of the lusty tale, is recovering from a bad fall and broken leg.

Seattle was a different city from the modern sophisticated city of coffee and tall buildings but crime and criminals were little changed. A growing business in high fashion perfumes and fabrics is staffed by the loveliest collection of young women around, a scene in which the young detective revels. His wandering eye never fails to ferret out the most uplifted bosom, tightly enclosed hips and bottoms or long, slender calves in fabulous high heels. Even the older women look tempting to the randy Nilson.

An upper class investor in the business hires Nilson to conduct an investigation of the murder of one of the lovelies employed in the business. He doesn’t much care who murdered whom or why, but he wants to avoid business-damaging scandal.

It’s all played for tongue-in-cheek laughs overlying some very nasty criminal activity as Nilson unwinds his recollection of the case for the young and attractive volunteer. The story is logical, peopled by a recognizable cast of characters, including the slimy business manager, gruff and snarly detectives, and Gunnar’s boon companion who acts as the foil off whom Gunnar can examine the steps and evidence he gradually collects, and the conclusion is satisfactory.

Gunnar’s relationship with the volunteer, Kristi, has a lot of unrealized potential and I look for intriguing future developments from this author and his characters.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, September 2015.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Reviews: The Twenty-Year Death Trilogy by Ariel S. Winter

Malniveau PrisonMalniveau Prison
The Twenty-Year Death Trilogy Book 1
Ariel S. Winter
Hard Case Crime, July 2014
ISBN: 978-1-781-16793-9
Mass Market Paperback

This noir novel, written in the style of classic crime writer Georges Simenon, is the first in a trilogy, originally a single novel, entitled The Twenty-Year Death.  With or without that homage, it certainly stands on its own as recommended reading.  (Each of the three books that make up the trilogy was published by Hard Case Crime in July of 2014, with the original comprising all three published in August of 2012.)  They are set in different decades of the last century (1931, 1941 and 1951), with the 2nd and 3rd written in the style of the equally famed writers Raymond Chandler and Jim Thompson.  The whole follows an American author and his much younger French wife, as well as several other well-written protagonists to greater and lesser degrees, varying with each book.

The book opens in the French village of Verargent, with the discovery of a body lying dead in the street, a local baker having come upon the corpse while walking home after work during a deluge.  The investigation falls to Chief Inspector Pelleter and the local chief of police, Letreau.  The novel unwinds over a period of less than a month, with the case getting more and more curious.  And it begins and ends in the nearby eponymous prison, where Pelleter has been called, after a fashion, by a sadistic murderer incarcerated there for several years, Mahossier, who has in the past given him information leading to the inspector being able to close theretofore unsolved cases.  Further investigation uncovers the fact that the dead man had been a prisoner at Malniveau, and had been murdered.  As things proceed, there are several more dead bodies discovered, and two young boys go missing, as well as a young woman, the French wife of the American author mentioned above.

Pelleter has his work cut out for him, it would seem.  He muses:  “He knew what had happened in many instances, but he did not know why or how, and therefore he did not know who.  He knew nothing.”  Although newly written, this is a classic noir procedural, and it is recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, January 2015.

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The Falling StarThe Falling Star
The Twenty-Year Death Trilogy Book 2
Ariel S. Winter
Hard Case Crime, July 2014
ISBN: 978-1-781-16794-6
Mass Market Paperback

The second of the books comprising The Twenty-Year Death Trilogy, this book feels more “noir” than its predecessor, “Malniveau Prison” (which took place in France), opening as it does in the world of Hollywood, at a movie studio in what is here called San Angelo, California, in 1941. Two of the characters from Book 1, Clotilde-ma-Fleur Rosenkrantz, a beautiful young woman, and her much older, alcoholic husband, Shem, are now, a decade later, respectively a movie star who goes by Chloe Rose, and a movie script writer, both at Merton Stein productions. The protagonist in the new book is Dennis Foster, ex-cop and now a private detective, hired by Al Knox, the studio’s chief of security, to act as sort of a bodyguard for Clotilde, who thinks she’s being followed. When Foster protests that he is not a bodyguard, Knox tells him “. . . . she only thinks she’s being followed. You just need to make her feel safe. For show.”

Although Chloe had “displaced champagne as America’s favorite French import,” there is nothing celestial about her. Her husband, Shem, “looked like a stereotype of the great American author, which he was.” As things progress, Foster doesn’t like that he is “just here for show, a piece of set decoration, and not a very necessary one either. This case already had a mystery man on the set, a mystery man on the phone, the mystery man that the man on the phone was bargaining for, the mystery man who was drinking and laughing with Shem Rosenkrantz upstairs. I was one too many. I felt like I had come to the party late and got seated at the wrong table,” and that he was “hired to babysit a paranoid prima donna.” And when more than one dead body is discovered, it serves only to make his assignment more complex, and much more difficult.

The author has the noir writing down pat. There is the requisite male movie star, whose butler was “bald with a horseshoe of hair around the back of his head, a pencil mustache, and a tuxedo with white gloves.” A reference to the WPA and a woman with a “tea-length skirt” place it firmly in its era. As well, nothing in these pages reflect what we today call politically correct attitudes. And when Foster is beaten up by men determined to keep him away from the case, the following morning “I had to get undressed before I could get dressed again, which only hurt a little. No more than getting gored by a bull.”  A man who keeps his word, he will not turn his back on his tasks of finding the killer and saving Chloe from herself.

As was the first book in the trilogy, the novel is very entertaining, and is recommended.  And I now have in front of me the last novel in the trilogy, Police at the Funeral, to which I am very much looking forward.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, January 2015.

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Police at the FuneralPolice at the Funeral
The Twenty-Year Death Trilogy Book 3
Ariel S. Winter
Hard Case Crime, July 2014
ISBN: 978-1-781-16795-3
Mass Market Paperback

The last of the books comprising The Twenty-Year Death Trilogy, takes place not in France, as did the first, nor in Southern California, as did the second, but in Calvert City, Maryland.  The two characters from both earlier books return here: Clotilde-ma-Fleur Rosenkrantz, a beautiful young woman who reached film stardom as Chloe Rose, and her much older, alcoholic husband, Shem, who had achieved fame as an author, later as a movie script writer.

Time has not been kind to Mr. or Mrs. Rosenkrantz:  Clotilde is now and has been for the last ten years ensconced in a private psychiatric hospital, and Shem is now washed up, and broke.  Shem returns to Maryland for the first time in 30 years following the death of Quinn Rosenkrantz, his first wife, from whom he has been divorced for 20 of those years, for the reading of her will.  Deeply in debt, Shem has traveled 3,000 miles more than anything because he is desperate for what he hopes will be the money left to him by his wife, who was from a very wealthy family, his desperation caused by his need to keep Clotilde from having to be placed in a state institution.  It had been three years since Shem had seen his and Quinn’s son, Joe, not since his high school graduation, but they of course do meet again at the office of the attorney in whose office the Will is to be read to all concerned.

The presence of the police at the funeral referenced in the title is part of an investigation into another death which follows quickly upon the scene described above.  The book is beautifully wrought, the plotting very original, and the whole a suspenseful read (more so than the two books which preceded it, in fact) that I devoured in the space of several hours.  To say more would necessitate spoilers, so I leave it to the reader to discover and explore for him or herself.  (Just to whet one’s appetite, I will only add that this was the first time I have read a book where the author makes the analogy that “killing someone was a whole lot like writing, a creative endeavor.”)

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, January 2015.

Book Review: Dead to Me by Mary McCoy

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Title: Dead to Me
Author: Mary McCoy
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult

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Dead to MeDead to Me
Mary McCoy
Hyperion, March 2015
ISBN 978-1-4231-8712-7
Hardcover

From the publisher—

“Don’t believe anything they say.”

Those were the last words that Annie spoke to Alice before turning her back on their family and vanishing without a trace. Alice spent four years waiting and wondering when the impossibly glamorous sister she idolized would return to her–and what their Hollywood-insider parents had done to drive her away.

When Annie does turn up, the blond, broken stranger lying in a coma has no answers for her. But Alice isn’t a kid anymore, and this time she won’t let anything stand between her and the truth, no matter how ugly. The search for those who beat Annie and left her for dead leads Alice into a treacherous world of tough-talking private eyes, psychopathic movie stars, and troubled starlets–and onto the trail of a young runaway who is the sole witness to an unspeakable crime. What this girl knows could shut down a criminal syndicate and put Annie’s attacker behind bars–if Alice can find her first. And she isn’t the only one looking.

Evoking classic film noir, debut novelist Mary McCoy brings the dangerous glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age to life, where the most decadent parties can be the deadliest, and no drive into the sunset can erase the crimes of the past.

There is plenty about Dead to Me that I should not like very much. I generally don’t care for books set in the film world, I’m not crazy about noir and/or hardboiled private eyes and the late 1940’s leave me kind of indifferent. Why on earth, then, did I sign up for this blog tour?

Truth is, I was intrigued by the story description, particularly the notion of a teenaged girl working so hard to get to the truth and find out who would do such a thing to her sister and why, not to mention learn why Annie had disappeared years before. The time period involved made it more interesting despite my usual antipathy precisely because Alice would have so much going against her in this era when teen girls were not exactly held in high esteem. Also, let’s face it, I was pulled in by my immediate feeling that this could be very Nancy Drew-ish and I have a fondness for that young lady. I’m happy to say that Ms. McCoy didn’t let me down in any way. Within the first three pages, I was captivated.

From the beginning, Alice shows herself to be intelligent and more than a bit nosy, great qualifications for a budding detective. Along the way, she encounters those who would harm her but also those who want to help and she needs them because the surprises start immediately when Alice  learns that Annie wouldn’t want their emotionally distant father to know what has happened. Alice isn’t perfect, though, in her zeal to get to the truth; she makes a lot of mistakes as you might expect and, without a private investigator named Jerry Shaffer, she likely wouldn’t have gotten very far.

A number of the characters in Dead to Me are seemingly quite stereotypical on the surface, right down to the seedy private eye and dirty cops, but Ms. McCoy gives them a bit of flair that makes them feel very real. Alice  even smacks a little of Veronica Mars, another of my favorite teen girl detectives 😉 I’ve become quite fond of Alice and Jerry and really hope Ms. McCoy will bring them back.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2015.

About the Author

Mary McCoyMary McCoy is a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. She has also been a contributor to On Bunker Hill and the 1947project, where she wrote stories about Los Angeles’s notorious past. She grew up in western Pennsylvania and studied at Rhodes College and the University of Wisconsin. Mary now lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Her debut novel, Dead To Me, is a YA mystery set in the glamorous, treacherous world of 1940s Hollywood.

 

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