Racing the Devil
Review: E. Michael Terrell introduces a complex … and conflicted … private investigator who finds himself framed for a murder he most certainly did not commit in Racing the Devil.
Nashville PI Jared McKean is a family man without a family. Or so he thinks. He still loves his ex-wife and adores their son, Paulie, who has Down Syndrome. He lives on a horse farm with his gay best friend, who has AIDS, but is afraid to show how much their friendship means to him. He's close to his brother and his family, yet doesn't seem to know them at all. And he's open to one night stands with a pretty woman. It's the morning after one of these anonymous assignations that he sees his name on the morning news — wanted for the murder of a woman. Except he doesn't know the dead woman. The police have evidence that strongly suggests otherwise, including DNA samples, fingerprints, and a voice mail message from McKean to the woman. He knows he's being framed, but isn't sure if he is the target and the woman was random, or if she was the target and he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Racing the Devil is an ambitious mystery but one that almost seems at odds with itself. Consider the central character, Jared McKean. It's not enough that he has a laundry list of personal issues to deal with; he's also investigating his own involvement (or lack thereof) in a murder. While he's an interesting character, and one definitely worth learning more about, there's an overabundance of information for the reader here that could have — and probably should have — been revealed over the course of two or three books. The murder mystery plot itself tends to be overly and unnecessarily convoluted, not necessarily a critical flaw, but is compounded by the fact that it is also exceptionally depressing. Crime is never a cheerful event, but the crimes in Racing the Devil are particularly disturbing. Again, not a critical flaw in and of itself, but the crimes seem to be used in a contrived, manipulative manner to influence the character of McKean — and by extension the reader — at the end of the book.
Definitely not a run-of-the-mill mystery, Racing the Devil requires some patience on the part of the reader. It's a solidly plotted book with well-drawn characters, but troubling nonetheless.
Acknowledgment: Night Shadows Press provided an ARC of Racing the Devil for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Racing the Devil: Nashville, Tennessee
— ♦ —
Racing the Devil by E. Michael Terrell — A Jared McKean Mystery
Publisher: Night Shadows Press
Publication Date: October 2009
List Price: $24.95