Review: Bail bondsman Herman Jackson seems to be the only person who cares when a homeless man, a Vietnam Vet, is beaten to death in broad daylight, but the attention soon turns to him when he's listed as the man's sole beneficiary of a mysterious box, in Frag Box, the second mystery in this series by Richard A. Thompson.
Herman sometimes misses his exciting days as a bounty hunter (and bookie on the side), but for the most part he enjoys his current, relatively benign life as a bail bondsman in St. Paul. Most of the people he posts bonds for show up in court when required, including a semi-recurring client, one Charlie Victor, who pays Herman's fees with money taken from a "frag box", a holdover from his service in Vietnam. But then Charlie is murdered. The police investigation seems perfunctory at best, and no one comes forward with any information as to why anyone might want to kill Charlie. It comes as something of a surprise to Herman when a lawyer contacts him, telling him he's the beneficiary of Charlie's "estate", which consists solely of his frag box — current location unknown. Herman quickly concludes that Charlie was killed for his frag box, and discovers someone will go to any length to obtain its contents.
Part of the puzzle presented in Frag Box is whether Charlie's murder is quickly dismissed by the authorities due to the fact that he was homeless — and a Vietnam Vet — and therefore unimportant, or because someone is pressuring the police (and media) to close the case quickly for political (or possibly personal) reasons. The story is well-constructed, the characters compelling, the murder mystery itself satisfyingly complex. It's a solid follow-up to the first mystery in this series, Fiddle Game. But where Fiddle Game is more thrilling, Frag Box is more thoughtful, an interesting contrast in this series of just two books (to date) that illustrates the range of this author's talent.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Frag Box.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Frag Box for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), January 2008
ISBN-13: 9781590584552; ISBN-10: 1590584554
Location(s) referenced in Frag Box: St. Paul, Minnesota
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Frag Box by Richard A. Thompson — A Herman Jackson Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: November 2009
List Price: $24.95