Death Deals a Hand
A California Zephyr Mystery by Janet Dawson
Review: Murder takes center stage on a trip aboard the California Zephyr in Death Deals a Hand, the second mystery in this series by Janet Dawson.
Jill McLeod, the only female staff member of the onboard crew of the California Zephyr, typically greets passengers, directs them to their compartments, and helps them get settled in. She also had training as a nurse, so is able to deal with small injuries or minor illnesses. In April, 1953 the Zephyr leaves Chicago's Union Station heading west towards San Francisco. On board is Jill's Uncle Sean and his son, Doug. Sean, an ex-Chicago cop, is on his way to visit his daughter's family in Winnemucca, Nevada while Doug, who is estranged from his father, is going to Portola, Nevada to start a new ski lodge with a friend. Doug like to play poker and heard there was a game going on in the compartment of another passenger, Mr. Fontana. Either Doug was a very good player or a very lucky player, as he won quite a bit of money, most of it from Fontana. Fontana accused Doug of cheating and an argument ensued. Later, Fontana is found by a porter, dead of a gunshot to the heart. As the only person close to an authority onboard, Sean is asked to lead the investigation while the Zephyr continues westward. A revolver is found in Doug's compartment, recently fired but unloaded. And while Doug is a suspect, it turns out that Fontana had a long list of enemies made while dealing in liquor, loan-sharking, the numbers racket, and more. He was even accused of stealing and forging government ration stamps during the recent war, especially C-stamps for gas. It was a thriving business, but there was never enough evidence to arrest him. Fontana's killer is still aboard the Zephyr. Can Sean, with Jill's help, solve the case before the next stop?
There is a strong sense of riding the rails with Jill McLeod in Death Deals a Hand. The atmospheric setting is drawn perfectly, from the detailed touches of the Zephyr's interior to the sweeping descriptions of the land over which the train is passing. The murder mystery is solidly developed, with the professional investigator and amateur sleuth handling their respective roles very well. Overall, a memorable step back in time to the not-so-distant past that many readers, even if they never traveled by train, will certainly enjoy revisiting.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Death Deals a Hand.
Acknowledgment: Perseverance Press provided an ARC of Death Deals a Hand for this review.
Review Copyright © 2016 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Perseverance Press (Trade Paperback), April 2015
ISBN-13: 9781564745552; ISBN-10: 1564745554
Location(s) referenced in Death Deals a Hand: California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada
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Death Deals a Hand by Janet Dawson — A California Zephyr Mystery
Publisher: Perseverance Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: April 2016
List Price: $15.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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