End of the Line
A Parker Noble Mystery by Mike Manno
Review: Mike Manno's second mystery to feature homicide detective Jerome "Stan" Stankowski and his state attorney liaison Parker Noble, End of the Line, has the mismatched duo investigating the murder of a man found on bus.
The dead man is R. J. Butler, a former banker now working as an insurance claims adjustor. He had been fired from his previous job on suspicion of embezzlement when funds turned up missing. Stan is assigned to the case, but is joined by Parker when his boss, the Attorney General, who is friends with the bank's president, urges him to wrap things up quickly. But are the two crimes related? Despite the pressure from all sides to make an arrest, Stan and Parker don't want to jump to conclusions that aren't supported by the facts … especially when those facts seem to lead in opposite directions.
End of the Line is a locked room-style mystery in that an impossible murder seems to have been committed: how could a man be shot on a bus without any of his fellow passengers being aware of it? A combination of whodunit plus police procedural, Stan and Parker systematically and methodically interview all the witnesses (such as they are, since no one seems to have seen anything) and potential suspects (those who may benefit from R. J.'s death) … which is a minor problem for the book, causing it to move along slowly at times.
Parker and Stan are the central characters in the book, and their interpersonal "buddy cop"-type relationship is quite entertaining. That, and the well developed murder mystery plot, are sufficient to recommend the book. But these positive elements are diluted by passages of Stan, randy guy that he is, constantly on the lookout for his next romantic conquest. ("Even for a cop, it's hard to keep one's mind on business on the time. After all, how many red-blooded twenty-nine-year-old American males would rather think about a corpse on a bus than a couple of co-eds in tight jeans.") The introduction of a reporter — also on Stan's radar — looking for her next scoop adds little substantive, despite her being a recurring character.
Acknowledgment: Five Star Press provided an ARC of End of the Line for this review.
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End of the Line by Mike Manno — A Parker Noble Mystery
Publisher: Five Star
Publication Date: June 2010
List Price: $25.95