Review: Former Twin Cities detective Rushmore McKenzie agrees to look into a blackmail scheme involving the ex-husband of the woman he's dating — a task he is loathe to do were it not that her daughter, the man's father, pleads with him to do so — in Highway 61, the seventh mystery in this series by David Housewright.
McKenzie is not a private investigator, indeed he has no legal authority whatsoever, but his former colleagues trust him, especially when he can do things and go places they cannot. The case involves two prolific criminals, Big Joe and Little Joe Stippel, brothers who have managed to elude being charged for their crimes, and who also are behind the blackmail threats received by Jason Truhler. McKenzie quickly discovers why Truhler cannot go to the police himself — "You have no idea how business works these days," Truhler tells McKenzie, after he admits he distributes recreational drugs to friends and clients — yet he knows that even now, he's not getting the full story from his "client". Still, he pushes on, ever wary for what next he'll learn from this twisted case.
The book's title comes from the road that passes through St. Paul, heading north to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where the blackmail scheme, a simple extortion plot known as a "badger game" was originally put into motion. McKenzie's investigation rapidly expands, however, with several crimes — and potential criminals — entering the mix. The plot's premise is solid, and the narrative starts strong, but tends to waver a bit in the middle chapters, restlessly moving more sideways than forward. The action picks up again towards the end, almost too much so, as several major plot threads are sewn up quickly, if not necessarily neatly. The final chapter of the book is named — all the others, it should be noted, are numbered — "Just So You Know" followed by the opening sentence, "Not all homicides are solved." A few remaining loose ends are tied up, but all in all, it's actually an apt conclusion to this somewhat unevenly executed crime novel.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Highway 61 for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Curse of the Jade Lily
Minotaur Books (Hardcover), June 2012
ISBN-13: 9780312642310; ISBN-10: 0312642318
Location(s) referenced in Highway 61: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Thunder Bay, Ontario
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Highway 61 by David Housewright — A Rushmore McKenzie Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: June 2011
List Price: $25.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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