The Bubble Gum Thief
A Dagny Gray Mystery by Jeff Miller
Review: Special Agent Dagny Gray is assigned to investigate a series of crimes, the connection between them a single white card left at the scene, a stick of gum affixed to the back, in The Bubble Gum Thief, the first mystery in this series by Jeff Miller.
Dagny actually doesn't get involved until a Cincinnati bank is robbed. The note left behind: "This is my fifth crime. The next will be bigger." She begins database searches for a similar element from other crimes. The shooting of a dog in Chula Vista, California — the third crime — is the next to show up. But the case gets personal when a bestselling author is knifed outside a Washington DC bookstore — the sixth crime — and the man accompanying her also killed, Michael Brodsky, an art history professor at Georgetown … and Dagny's boyfriend.
The Bubble Gum Thief is a terrifically entertaining novel, with a very clever — if also more than a little convoluted — murder mystery plotline. The narrative is smartly written, the dialog realistic, the actions on the part of all involved credible. A scene early on gives a hint at what's to come. Dagny is flying from Cincinnati back to Washington, reading the latest Michael Connelly "Harry Bosch" thriller when her seatmate takes out the new Jeffery Deaver mystery.
"So do you read Deaver?" [he asked Dagny]
"I've read the Lincoln Rhymes."
"I love his twists at the end. You know, how you think the story is over, but then you find out there was more going on, and that someone else did something, too. This one," he brandished the book, "had a triple twist."
"Sometimes he tacks on one twist too many," she said.
"Maybe, but it's always an amazing ride."
Life imitating art, as it sometimes will … even if both are fictional.
Probably the only two significant drawbacks to The Bubble Gum Thief are its length and Dagny's medical condition. With respect to the former, the book checks in at well over 400 pages, and while it is briskly paced, there is quite a bit that could be cut without affecting the overall story arc. One of the character elements that should have been considered for excising is the latter drawback, Dagny's battle with anorexia. It serves little purpose in defining her character, has no realistic impact on her investigation, and is more of a awkward distraction for the reader than anything else. Still and all, both of these points are relatively minor quibbles. The Bubble Gum Thief really is "an amazing ride" and a fine start to this series.
Acknowledgment: Thomas & Mercer provided an ARC of The Bubble Gum Thief for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Bubble Gum Thief: Washington DC
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The Bubble Gum Thief by Jeff Miller — A Dagny Gray Mystery
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: December 2012
List Price: $14.95