A Noah Braddock Mystery by Jeff Shelby
Review: Jeff Shelby follows his superior crime novel Liquid Smoke with an equally strong sequel in Drift Away, the fourth mystery to feature (former) San Diego private investigator Noah Braddock.
The storyline picks up several months after the events in Liquid Smoke, with Noah working an equipment rental shack that provides umbrellas, surf boards, and the like to vacationers in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. He's in limbo, unable to go back, not sure what it means to go forward. A young boy approaches him, asking Noah to help find his mother. He does, locating her in the parking lot talking to a guy. His internal radar tells him this guy is no good, but he knows that getting involved in any way may mean getting his name out there, letting the people looking for him know where to find him, something he's trying to avoid at all costs. But the guy pushes all of Noah's buttons, and the inevitable confrontation between the two ends badly for Noah. He's willing to walk away from the confrontation, but he's unwilling to let a young boy be a pawn in someone else's criminal game, especially when Noah knows he can do something about it.
Drift Away can be read as a stand-alone, however, readers who do so might not quite understand how Noah came to be in his current situation, or why he acts the way he does. Elements of the backstory are seamlessly integrated into the plot, so it isn't strictly necessary to have read Liquid Smoke first … even though it undoubtedly helps provide a foundation to the present story.
The solidly developed characters, pitch-perfect dialog and the crisply written narrative more than compensate for the overly familiar plot, which is probably this novel's only minor drawback. In some sense, this is more of a character study than a crime novel. Most readers will know exactly how it will all end and probably accurately predict some of the waypoints; what is unknown is the exact path Noah will take to get there, and how he will overcome the challenges he's bound to face along the way.
Drift Away concludes in a similar manner as its predecessor, with a seemingly impossible scenario for Noah Braddock. It is contextually consistent with the overall story arc presented in these two books and it is not a cliffhanger by any means … yet on some level it feels like one. But in a good way, where the anticipation of learning what happens next is almost as enjoyable as discovering what indeed does happen next.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Thread of Hope
Jeff Shelby (Ebook), December 2011
ISBN-13: ; ISBN-10:
Location(s) referenced in Drift Away: Ft. Walton Beach, Florida
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Drift Away by Jeff Shelby — A Noah Braddock Mystery
Publisher: Jeff Shelby
Publication Date: June 2012
List Price: $4.99