Review: Fiddle Game is Robert A. Thompson's first mystery that introduces Herman Jackson, a bail bondsman living in St. Paul, and it is a winner. Jackson is someone who is smart enough to stay just above the law but not quite smart enough that the police keep an eye on him.
Jackson generally leads a quiet life. That is, until one day when Amy Cox came in for an $18,000 bond for her brother Jimmy. She has no cash, but she's willing to put up something worth far more, a 400-year-old Amati violin with a certificate of authenticity. Together, Amy and Jackson visit a pawn shop when they receive the necessary cash. After the transaction is complete, Amy leaves Jackson's office and is killed by a hit-and-run driver. To Jackson's surprise, the police accuse him of murdering Amy, and want him to turn over the violin as part of their investigation.
And so begins a thrilling, cross-country adventure as Jackson uses numerous fake IDs to keep one step ahead of the people following him, at least one of which wants him dead. He takes off for Seattle, and then rents a car to Arizona where he meets his incarcerated uncle who advises him to have piece of pecan pie at local cafe. Be sure to ask for Rosie. Rosie's pecan pie is actually a selection of guns, and she accompanies Jackson to the Chicago suburb of Skokie which has a large gypsy population. As a band of gypsies have claimed the Amati was theirs to begin with, Jackson thinks he'll find the answers there to all his questions, and who killed Amy Cox.
Fiddle Game is a face-paced caper that keeps the reader guessing as to what happens next. The characters are original and well drawn; each has a bit of a rough side and no one is quite who they seem on the surface. Though the plot moves along at breakneck speed, the writing is surprisingly well balanced, especially for a first novel.
If Thompson can continue this level of excellence in subsequent books, this will definitely be a series to look forward to. In the meantime, enjoy Fiddle Game; it's a real treat.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Fiddle Game.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Fiddle Game for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), November 2009
ISBN-13: 9781590586785; ISBN-10: 1590586786
Location(s) referenced in Fiddle Game: St. Paul, Minnesota, Seattle, Arizona, Chicago, Illinois.
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Fiddle Game by Richard A. Thompson — A Herman Jackson Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: January 2008
List Price: $24.95