The Case Files of Tony Gavel by J. W. Metcalf, Jr.
Review: PI Tony Gavel is hired by a woman to find her husband's missing business partner — someone with whom she had been having an affair — in From the Case Files of Tony Gavel: Wasted Space, the first mystery in this series by J. W. Metcalf, Jr.
Merissa Talbert is beautiful — "&hellip I was drawn to her full ripe lips. Her almond shaped eyes, the color of smoked glass, were looking at me as she continued to tell her tale …" — and rich. But she can't go to the police, for fear her husband will find out about the affair with Jim Cooper. It doesn't take long for Tony to find Jim, however, dead in his apartment, an apparently self-inflicted gunshot to the head. The scene doesn't look right to Tony, though. Before calling the police he does a little sleuthing only to discover that the security cameras that Cooper had installed were inoperative, and the recordings of several days prior had been erased. This was no suicide … but would a jealous husband have gone to all the trouble to make it look like one? Or might there be someone else who wanted Jim Cooper dead.
The murder mystery plot gets underway very quickly and credibly, if somewhat predictably, unfolds. The characters are a little thinly developed; it appears as if a "show, don't tell" approach to defining a character within the context of a given situation — always the preferred method — was the goal, but it is infrequently achieved, the characters never really adding a dimension to or evolving beyond their initial description.
Wasted Space could have benefited tremendously from the critical eye of a professional editor. Relatively infrequent but clearly identifiable instances of poor (or absent) punctuation, sentence fragments, improper use of words and incorrect use of tense, and the like mar the narrative. Much of the dialog is a little clunky, too. Correcting these problems before publication would have made a significant difference in perception here.
Still and all, Tony Gavel deserves a second case. His methodical 1940s style of investigating in the 21st century makes for an interesting contrast.
(Note: This review is based on an early version of the ebook. A later version, provided by the author prior to publication of this review, corrects some of the grammatical errors mentioned above, but enough remain to make the comments still relevant.)
Acknowledgment: the author provided an eARC of Wasted Space for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Wasted Space:
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Wasted Space by J. W. Metcalf, Jr. — The Case Files of Tony Gavel
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: April 2012
List Price: $12.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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