DEAD ON THE ISLAND by Bill Crider
Bill Crider is a friend of mine, so I read a lot of his books because they hit my radar more often. However, the friendship isn’t why I read the books. He a really good writer and he writes horror, suspense, Westerns, and mysteries. He’s a natural storyteller and understands the conventions of the genre he’s working in.
Truman Smith is a Galveston, Texas, private eye and stars in five of Crider’s books. I picked up the first couple Smith books back when they first came out, but had trouble finding the last three. The ebook hadn’t been invented back then and getting hold of some books could prove difficult unless you haunted bookstores. Unfortunately, I was busy coaching little league baseball and basketball teams, so I didn’t get to do the haunting.
Now, though, the entire series is being reprinted in ebooks on the Kindle and the Nook. The fifth book is due out next month and The Prairie Chicken Kill was just released. Sadly, at the moment, that is the last Truman Smith book.
I love Truman Smith. He drinks Big Red, has a bum leg, and reads constantly. What’s not to love? He’s an everyday hero who’s easy to understand and get to know. Also, he’s got a big mystery in his life that he hasn’t solved. His younger sister Jan went missing a year ago and he hasn’t been able to find her. Smith’s whole private eye business had been based on him being able to find people that couldn’t be found.
Broken, Smith returned home to Galveston and started painting houses, shutting himself out of the detective business. But he’s around his past and it doesn’t take long to come calling in the form of Dino and Ray, guys he played football with and against when he was younger.
Dino is the son of criminal royalty but really isn’t involved in his father and uncles’ business these days because he’s pretty much gone legit. However, he presents a missing girl case to Smith and asks Smith to look into it as a favor for the old days.
Smith reluctantly agrees, but soon finds that he’s missed the detecting work. He steps back into the traces and gets underway. The path quickly turns deadly and bodies start piling up, some of them dropped by Smith himself, which is something he’d never had to do before.
I really enjoyed this book as much the second time around as I did the first. Of course, I knew who did it the second time and what was truly going on, but Crider brings Galveston to life and I love the small-town feel of the city. Crider is an easy to read writer. You just sink into a chair and start, and within minutes you’re plugged into another world and someone else’s problems and mysteries.