The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

August 14, 2009

Book review: ‘Nightwalkers’ utilizes historic setting


By P. T. Deutermann

(compact disc audiobook)

“Nightwalkers” begins with a Civil War train robbery and massacre. That chapter segues into the present day with Cam Richter surveying Glory’s End, a sprawling, 700-acre ante-bellum mansion complete with secret tunnels and hidden rooms in the North Carolina countryside.

Cam wants to take a break from his thriving private-eye business, “Hide and Seek Investigations.” He purchases the estate even though he realizes that it could take years and thousands of dollars to restore the mansion to its former grandeur. He quickly discovers that his quirky neighbors, the Lees, still live as if in the Civil War era, complete with their long dresses and mannerisms. One of the Lee family members (everyone knows him as the “crazy” Major) is a Vietnam veteran who truly believes he is a Confederate major and patrols on a horse at night for Yankee spies.

Cam shortly recognizes that he has more serious problems than a mansion money pit and eccentric neighbors. Someone is trying to kill him and he is clueless as to who or why. He assumes it must be someone from his past because he hasn’t lived in the community long enough to have made enemies — or has he? Cam relies on his German Shepherd companions, Frick, Frack and Kitty, and the guys from “Hide and Seek Investigations” to help protect him as he tries to stay alive and find out who is trying to murder him.

This is an intriguing complex mystery with its eccentric characters and historic setting. The plot, filled with twists and turns, led to an unexpected and surprising conclusion. Dick Hill’s excellent narration adds to the suspense. I highly recommend “Nightwalkers” to anyone who enjoys mysteries with a little Civil War history and an “old South feel” setting.

“Below Zero”

By C. J. Box

(compact disc audiobook)

The ninth installment in the Joe Pickett series finds the game warden living and working in a remote area in Wyoming known as “The Place where Game Wardens are Sent to Die.”

The governor sent Joe there to keep him out the public eye after one of his cases went wrong. Joe hurries home when his wife calls to tell him that their oldest daughter, Sheridan, received a text message reading “tell Sherry April called.” April, their foster daughter, was killed in an explosion six years ago — or so everyone thought. The family is stunned when Sheridan receives more text messages from the person who says she is April. The person texting provides information that only April could know. Joe has his doubts about April still being alive, but what if by some means, she escaped that horrific episode years ago? Moreover, if it is April, where has she been and what has she been doing for six years?

Joe begins the hunt for the person sending the messages along with Sheridan, since she is the sender’s contact and Joe knows nothing about texting.

Joe calls on one of his friends in the FBI when the texter mentions in one of the messages a Chicago mobster called Stenko. In addition, the sender knows about apparently unrelated murders that have taken place at various locations in the West — and eventually the messages are traced to those areas. Joe calls upon Nate Romanowski, a character from a previous book, and along with Nate and Sheridan he embarks on a desperate search for a person who may or may not be April.

“Below Zero” is an excellent read with a fast-paced plot, interesting characters and wonderful descriptions of Wyoming. The bad guys are revealed early on but the ending definitely comes as a surprise. The author provides enough background information that you can read this as a stand-alone mystery, but I highly recommend reading the other books in the series. Joe is a heroic character with a deep sense of integrity and is a devoted family man. David Chandler narrates Box’s latest Joe Pickett mystery.

Phyllis Seesengood is the technical services librarian at Joplin Public Library.