Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Sheridan Road Mystery: a Free Book review

The Sheridan Road Mystery (free audiobook here) by Paul and Mabel Thorne is a fairly brief mystery novel that moves in several unexpected directions. There were points I found predictable--I correctly figured out where the criminal mastermind got off to, for example--but it's fast-paced and enjoyable with quite a few surprises.

A patrolman is walking his beat in the wee hours when he hears a shot. He heads for it as best he can--it's hard to locate a single gunshot by sound alone--and encounters a helpful citizen who guides him to the proper building and room. But the room is locked, and when the cops get in, they at first find no evidence of a crime. Then the aforementioned citizen a little too helpfully locates some evidence for them. They are not amused. Who is this guy anyway?

This isn't exactly a cozy mystery: not counting the initial crime, there are assorted boppings, bashings, and thrashings. The heroine is bonked once and drugged twice, which puts her in the lead for receiving abuse, but it's all off camera, so to speak. The bad guys get pounded even more thoroughly. Still, the level of violence is fairly mild. The grossest moment is when they finally find the body, and even that is not particularly intense. The story will keep your interest without giving you nightmares. The profanity level is also tepid by modern standards, though stronger than I would personally write.

Actually, if I were going to complain, it would be about something else: the story twice shifts apparent heroes. We start with Policeman Murphy--a likable chap. Don't get attached to him, though: he will nearly disappear after a chapter or so. Then we get Detective Sergeant Dave Morgan, an even more obvious hero figure.

Guess what...

Morgan doesn't outright disappear from the story, but after a few chapters it becomes clear that he isn't the hero of the story either. I wouldn't pull such a trick as a writer, but it doesn't cause any problems for the reader.

In sum, a good read and probably better than a lot of modern stories you'd actually pay for.

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