What I like about my eReader is that it allows me to browse books that I normally wouldn’t read, books outside the usual genres I favor (literary fiction, women’s fiction, memoir, poetry and just about anything running related).
Sometimes, being pulled out of my comfort zone is a good thing. Sometimes it isn’t.
In the case of award-winning author Todd Borg, it was a very good thing. For I don’t normally read mystery novels. In fact, I avoid them at all cost. They just aren’t my cup of tea (or should I say a bar of chocolate?).
Yet when I read an interview by Borg on popular blogger Molly Greene’s site, I was impressed by both his writing and his way of looking at the world. So I scurried on over to Amazon, read a sample of “Tahoe Deathfall” and downloaded a copy.
I began reading the next day. What captured my attention is the affection Borg has for his characters, and the way he portrays their vulnerabilities and shortcomings with a type of impatient but accepting love, almost as if they are family, and I suppose that in a way they are.
Owen McKenna is a private detective with an interesting sidekick: A humongous dog named Spot. Owen is sharp-witted and tough, but Spot is tougher and Owen knows this, which I suppose is why I liked him so much. I liked Spot too. And Street, Owen’s girlfriend. And the teenaged Jennifer, Owen’s client. Heck. I liked all of the character, even the ridiculously muscled bad guy (spoiler alert!) who turned out not to be so much of a bad guy.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The premise of the story is this: Jennifer hires Owen to find out who killed her twin sister years ago (she toppled off a cliff, which is the opening scene and which, I may add, immediately grabbed my attention. There aren’t a lot of writers who can pull off a child death scene as an opening without leaving a bad taste in most readers’ mouths), and in the process of solving the whodunit, Owen uncovers a mess of family secrets, some of which I guessed, some of which I didn’t.
And, okay, “Tahoe Deathfall” isn’t always realistic–what murder mystery is? But it is fun. And it is also written with the kind of authority that points to an author who did his homework. When Owen takes off on a boat and later, in a small airplane, the reader automatically trusts him. And while the situation might be stretching things a bit (don’t all books stretch the truth a bit? Isn’t that why we read to begin with, to escape our too tame and structured lives?), the action is dead-on. And exciting.
I won’t say much more except that the ending is surprisingly sweet for a mystery series.
One complaint: There isn’t much chemistry between Owen and his girlfriend, Street. I don’t mean sex–the book certainly doesn’t need sex. But for some reason, I kept thinking that Street was Owen’s sister, even though I knew she was his girlfriend. Not sure if my libido was just low as I read or if this is a small flaw in the writing/character development. If it is, no matter. It’s minor and doesn’t subtract from the overall flavor of the book.
While “Tahoe Deathfall” is neither deep nor literary, it is exactly what it’s supposed to be: A fun and fast read. I recommend it to all murder mystery lovers, especially those who enjoy strong female characters.
Would I buy another Owen McKenna mystery?
Ummm, I’m downloading one right now. Best of all, there’s a whole slew, about thirteen, to choose from.