The Blue Cheer
A Frank Johnson Mystery by Ed Lynskey
Review: Ed Lynskey changes the venue for Frank Johnson in his second mystery, The Blue Cheer, placing the private investigator in West Virginia to solve a senseless murder.
The wife of an old friend, confined to a wheelchair, is brutally tortured and murdered. Why would anyone harm someone who was so harmless? Frank and the victim's husband, Old Man Maddox, set out to avenge her death, and quickly suspect that a cult group living in the West Virginia mountains may be responsible. Called The Blue Cheer, the organization advocates the separation of races but also promotes atheism. Old Man is black, his dead wife white; could her murder have been a message that The Blue Cheer doesn't tolerate mixed marriages in its neighborhood? Or could it mean something more sinister?
For what is arguably a hard-boiled mystery novel, The Blue Cheer is deft in drawing the reader into the story using a subtle, nuanced approach to plotting and in narrative. After Old Man is gunned down, it's clear that the case is more complex than Frank originally thought and rather than go it alone he brings in another old friend, bounty hunter extraordinaire (by his own admission) Gerald Peyton, to continue the investigation. Frank and Gerald work at the fringes of the law to bring down The Blue Cheer and ensure that Old Man and his wife's murders don't go unpunished.
The only inconsistency in this fine mystery is the subplot involving Frank's imprisoned (and later escaped) cousin Rodney Bellweather. It's not obvious that including Frank's role in tracking down Rodney adds any value to the book nor is its resolution, independent and unrelated to that of the main plot, very satisfactory.
The Blue Cheer is a P. I. novel at its best and deserves to be recognized as such.
Acknowledgment: Point Blank Press provided an ARC of The Blue Cheer for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Dirt Brown Derby
Mundania Press (Trade Paperback), July 2006
ISBN-13: 9781594262326; ISBN-10: 1594262322
Pelham Fell Here
Mundania Press (Trade Paperback), August 2008
ISBN-13: 9781594264016; ISBN-10: 1594264015
Location(s) referenced in The Blue Cheer: Virginia, West Virginia
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The Blue Cheer by Ed Lynskey — A Frank Johnson Mystery
Publisher: Point Blank Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: February 2007
List Price: $12.95