Review: When a partner from a high-powered Manhattan legal firm hires the relatively pedestrian Golden Legal Services to track down a missing college student — "I said he left campus three days ago. I did say he was missing." — Benji Golden is suspicious. However the retainer the partner leaves is more than enough to guarantee that his boss, who also happens to also be his mother, agrees to take on the case, in Runaway Man, the first mystery in this series by David Handler.
Twenty-five-year-old Benji looks much younger and his specialty is finding runaways. Bruce Weiner, however, at 21 is of legal age and if he's disappeared and doesn't want to be found that would be, and should be, his business. But a client is a client and even if just a little of Mr. Classy Guy's story is true, that Bruce is in line to inherit a considerable sum of money, then it probably is worth Benji's time to look for him. He catches a break when Bruce's teenaged sister tells him where Bruce is: at the family's lakefront cottage in Connecticut. He arrives to find Bruce shot dead, the body still warm to the touch. Believing that he was used simply as a means to direct someone to Bruce's location, Benji sets off to find the real reason he was hired to find young man, which he believes will lead him to the identity of his killer.
The murder mystery plot of Runaway Man is a fairly standard one, and it doesn't take Benji all that long (nor the reader) to figure out the whydunit despite numerous red herrings dropped along the way. It's the whodunit that is the intriguing element here, one that is well hidden if also in plain sight, as it were. This is the author's third series and while Benji Golden is no Stewart Hoag (the best to date of the author's characters by far), the two share many of the same intellectual qualities. The character that is probably hardest to get a handle on is Benji's mother, Abby, a former stripper, widowed from a NYPD cop who started their business. She's tough in a gentle sort of way and gentle in a tough sort of way. In many respects she is the stereotypical Jewish mother and yet at the same time not. It's probably just as well she plays a supporting role in the story, as too much of Abby would probably be too much of a good thing.
All in all, a solid start to this series, one that has a strong cast of characters in a middling murder mystery plot.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Runaway Man for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Snow White Christmas Cookie
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), October 2012
ISBN-13: 9781250004543; ISBN-10: 1250004543
Location(s) referenced in Runaway Man: Manhattan, New York City; Connecticut
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Runaway Man by David Handler — A Benji Golden Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: August 2013
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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