Sunday, June 20, 2010

McKenzie Affair

McKenzie Affair by Don Meyer
(Two Peas Publishing / 0-984-07735-9 / 978-0-984-07735-9 / May 2010 / 308 pages / $14.95 / Amazon $11.66 / B&N $10.76 / Kindle $7.99)

Although I have never read any of Robert B. Parker's books in the Spenser or Jesse Stone Series, I absolutely love the movies made of the Jesse Stone books by Tom Selleck, and Meyer's Tom Monason Series is sort of a mirror image of those. Whereas Stone is an alcoholic LA cop who retires to a little seaport resort in MA, Monason is a big city cop who retires to a mountain resort town in Northern California. Think Tahoe or Big Bear for the basic scenery, although Monason's town is a bit quieter and more isolated.

A couple of people get murdered and Monason solves the case with old-school craftiness and small-town charm, sort of like Andy Taylor without the laugh track. Monason rarely fires his six-shooter he calls a wheel gun and he has an ongoing relationship with a cute deputy a few years younger. This description could more or less be applied to Winter Ghost, the first in the series, as well as McKenzie Affair. There are many plot twists and turns in this mystery that have been deliberately not mentioned here. Just as in a typical Law & Order episode, somebody discovers a body or two in the opening scene, and then the cops and medical examiner put their heads together to try to find the perpetrator. As in the best of these episodes, the unexpected plot twists make the story entertaining.

The biggest difference between the Parker and Meyer books is probably length. Don Meyer's books are quick reads of show-don't-tell characters and dialog, with very little detailed description. I usually prefer the lengthier type of read, but not in this case. I LOVE the story lines, characters, settings, and compositional style of both McKenzie Affair and Winter Ghost! This is a review of McKenzie Affair, of course, but you may wish to go back and read Winter Ghost first for a little more background on the characters. The previous crime mentioned several times in McKenzie Affair is the same one covered in detail in the first book in the series. An addendum in the back of McKenzie Affair mentions that the third book in this mystery series will be released in 2011.

I would give McKenzie Affair five stars for providing entertaining reading except for one glaring flaw. This book, and Winter Ghost as well, need to be edited and proofread a lot more effectively, particularly the proofreading. There are missing commas and overused ellipses out the wazoo, and most of the ellipses are missing their ending punctuation. There are a number of other common mistakes, too, but much lesser in frequency. These mistakes did not slow down the reading, but I did have to consciously look past them. The publisher of McKenzie Affair states on its website that its releases display distinctively constructed design details, and these are quite evident. The printer did an excellent job, but the final proofing leaves a bit to be desired. The final verdict: technical production, C-, engrossing storyline, A+.

See also: Dr. Al Past's review of Winter Ghost
Review of The Protected Will Never Know

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