What a pleasure to read a well written book by a colleague, acquaintance or friend. Deadline for Death, by friend and guest blogger, Steve Head, arrived a week or so ago. Actually, Steve sent an electronic copy of an early draft over a year ago. I read the first chapters quickly, discovered that reading off a computer does not work for me so I never finished. I recall sending Steve several questions and comments, which he politely rebuffed and refuted. But now, battery free copy in hand, I can say that this book does not have the usual tell-tale signs of a first novel. In fact. Steve's novel holds up well against mysteries written by many well established authors.
"Deadline" takes place over eight days in 1952, the time not only serving as a backdrop but also being integral to the plot. The Wyoming setting also provides an anchor for the action. Each character, distinct and unique in voice, attitude and history, plays a significant role. Incidental players add local color and just the right dash of humor, especially Rose, the waitress at the Atomic Cafe. (Thanks for the silly bit on page 304, Steve!).
The plot? When Corky Freeman, young newspaper photographer, is found dead, the local newspaper editor, Wilson Dodge's digging about turns up more than answers to whodunit. Several apparent political murders follow, begging the question of whether or not Corky was involved in some clandestine small town governance plot. I kept guessing. My guesses were nearly always wrong. I don't mean to imply that the logic of the action was flawed. The plot was so layered, detailed and fast that I had to keep my eye on every detail in order to pop the final puzzle piece into place.
Jolly good work, Steve. Congratulations.
FYI - Steve is hoping to make the trip from Nebraska to Manitowoc for a signing at some point.
Thanks for stopping by.