Thursday, June 28, 2018

Like to Die by David Housewright

First Sentence:  "My inner voice screamed at me."
As a favor to his poker buddy, Mac agrees to meet with Erin Peterson, founder and owner of "Salsa Girl Salsa."  Someone has been harassing her business, yet she has refused to report it to the police.  As the harassment grows and becomes dangerous, the threats can no longer be ignored, yet Erin still holds information back.  Can Mac find out what is really going on before people die?
How nice to have a detective story begin with a bit of humor—"'You're like that amateur sleuth on the Hallmark TV channel who finds dead bodies every time she goes to a garage sale.'  'You watch the Hallmark Channel?' Bobby said. 'That's the saddest thing I've ever heard.'"  It is also nice that Housewright provides a short explanation as to how an ex-cop legally became very wealthy, and Mackenzie is anything but the rough ex-cop/investigator, and how can one not like a character who appreciates classical poetry?  His inner voice is both informative and, occasionally, humorous—"This girl has so many angles they should name a new branch of geometry after her, my inner voice said. Like Euclid and Pythagoras."
All the author's characters are well done.  He brings them to life and makes them, and their relationships, real.  Nina, Mac's lover, is the type of woman many of us would like to be.  She has an equanimity which is admirable—"'When the truck exploded, a piece of the frame shot into your shoulder like an arrow,' Nina said.  She held up a thin six-inch-long slide of metal. 'Want to keep it?'  'No,' Nina was staring directly at me while she dropped it into a wastebasket.  'I am really sorry,' I said.  'We've had this discussion before.  You are who you are.'"
The description of what happens when a bomb explodes is very well done.  Plot twists can either be very effective or overused.  In the case of Housewright, they are very effective.  One never sees them coming.  There is a level of realism that is refreshing.  Clues don't always present themselves easily, nor does research always bring reward. It is amazing the things one can learn, such as about high-speed chases and the steps one could take to disappear, and those one should not take.  Well done to the author for being able to turn a reader's opinion of an important character.
The escalation of tension is inclined to keep one reading late into the night.  Despite a somewhat stereotypical climax, it is also rather clever.
"Like to Die" is a step above other books of this type.  It is, by turn, smart, thoughtful, exciting, and a very good read.

LIKE TO DIE (Unlic. Invest-Rushmore "Mac" MacKenzie-Twin Cities-Contemp) – VG+
      Housewright, David – 15th in series
      Minotaur Books – June 2018

1 comment:

  1. I like Housewright's work, too. Among other things, I like his depiction of the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area. In my view, his stories have a solid sense of place.