Mysterious Reviews Home

The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb

A Berger and Mitry Mystery by David Handler

The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb by David Handler

Review: When Glynis Fairchild-Forniaux is elected as First Selectwoman of Dorset, her first order of business is to order the repaving of the main road through the center of town, something last done in the late 1960s. But the road crew digs up more than expected when a body is discovered under the pavement in The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb, the tenth mystery in the Berger and Mitry series by David Handler.

The body belongs to U.S. Navy Lieutenant Lance Paffin, who was reported missing at sea when he reportedly fell off his boat in May 1967 … a date that coincides almost exactly with when the road was last paved. Trooper Des Mitry sees a cover-up — literally — but all of the older townspeople seem just as surprised as everyone else that Paffin's body was lying all this time under the street. It isn't until Mitch Berger, Des's boyfriend, starts asking questions and comparing notes that the truth, buried along with Lance Paffin so long ago, comes to light.

The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb is a pleasant enough mystery. It's certainly the right length at just over 200 pages, spending just enough time to introduce the cast of suspects, see where everyone was and what they were doing on the fateful night of Lance Paffin's disappearance, and then announce whodunit. There's the requisite banter between Des and Mitch, which gets a little tiresome after a while and never rings quite true anyway, but these scenes are relatively short and don't interfere with the story as a whole. (The denouement goes on for a little longer than necessary, but that's a minor quibble.) What does work are the small town politics and the sense of (often misplaced) loyalty within a tight-knit community. While the mystery here is incredibly light — not necessarily weak, but not very demanding either — it largely accomplishes what it sets out to do, providing a few hours of reading entertainment.

Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb for this review.

Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …

Mystery Book Review: Runaway Man by David HandlerRunaway Man
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), August 2013
ISBN-13: 9781250011626; ISBN-10: 1250011620

Mystery Book Review: The Lavendar Lane Lothario by David HandlerThe Lavendar Lane Lothario
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), February 2016
ISBN-13: 9781250076113; ISBN-10: 1250076110

Location(s) referenced in The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb: Connecticut

— ♦ —

The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb by David Handler

The Coal Black Asphalt Tomb by A Berger and Mitry Mystery

Publisher: Minotaur Books
Format: Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1-250-04197-5
Publication Date:
List Price: $25.99

Buy the Book (purchase options)

— ♦ —

Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews

Mysterious Reviews is a Division of
The Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
and a Business Unit of the
Omnimystery Family of Mystery Websites