Molly's Reviews

August is MurderAUGUST IS MURDER
Bob Liter
New Concepts Publishing

Nick Bancroft has made somebody upset, very upset. So far they have tried to kill him by torching the building where he lives, by shooting at him and who knows how or when they are going to try again. Nick, a journalist by trade, inherited both his top floor office and his detective agency and has found that he enjoys detective work even more than he does journalism. Bancroft finds himself having no home and possessing only his files, a small cat who lived in the building and came by for supper each day and the clothes he threw on when he realized the building was afire. The generosity of Otto, tavern owner where Nick spends a lot of his time, comes to Nick's rescue by allowing the newly homeless fellow a place to spend the rest of the night.

The day before the fire Bancroft had 'sort of' accepted a new client, Kathleen Cameron who claims to have received death threats. Bancroft, Kathleen, Otto and Maggie, the former secretary of the only other business in the burned out structure find themselves drawn into an ever stranger, worsening web of intrigue, deceit and murder. Kathleen's husband is murdered, she is accused of the homicide, Maggie seethes with jealousy and Otto first gives up his tavern and then reopens it again. Underlying everything as Bancroft attempts to unravel this harrowing situation is 'The Club.' The machinations of several wealthy, powerful men who are 'the power behind the throne' in Central City, Illinois force both Nick and Kathleen to be evicted from their homes, Otto is threatened with having his tavern razed, Maggie is fired from her job. The situation appears bleak and nearly beyond repair.

Writing in the first person Bob Liter has produced a power packed novel which draws the reader into the story from the opening line and holds their attention right on to the surprising revelation concerning 'The Club,' and the conclusion of the tale. Reminiscent of Ellery Queen twists and turns in tandem with the throat clutch drama of William Manchee's Stan Turner mystery series, writer Liter has produced a mystery thriller of exciting dimensions. The narrative is peopled with fascinating, credible characters who interact with one another in understandable and plausible fashion. Liter's private detective is a gem, no suave, 'got it wrapped up in hours' investigator here. Bancroft is beset with many of the very same foibles as are the readers; it is that quality which make him seem so alive and so likeable.

Liter has peopled his narrative with a group of entertaining characters ranging from the lively, nubile Kathleen to the powerful local cartel these are people you feel you almost know. The consternation voiced by Kathleen, Maggie's annoyance and Bancroft's befuddled dealings with the two women is both humorous and acceptable. Nick Bancroft is a tenacious detective, well able to ferret out the truth even as he stumbles in his dealings with attractive women.

Writer Liter weaves a deft tale of murder, complicity and downright evil with a skill usually reserved for those who have been at the writing craft for a longer period. AUSGUST IS MURDER is the first in this series, book 2 has been accepted for publication by New Concepts Publishing, and Washington, Illinois resident Liter says books 3 and 4 are finished and are being shopped to print publishers. AUGUST IS MURDER is a gripping narrative which appeals to the lover of good action packed mystery thrillers. Highly recommended.

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2005 by Molly Martin