Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

KEY DEATH by Jude Hardin

Jude Hardin Key Death

Jude Hardin’s Nicholas Colt series is picking up a well-deserved fan base. I’ve bought earlier books but haven’t gotten to them yet, so I read Key Death out of sequence. That’s really my bad, because I’ve discovered some things that happen to the Florida ex-rocker turned private eye that I would have preferred learning as I went along. So let that be my warning to you if you have picked up this series at the onset.

Key Death finds Colt nursing old wounds as well as new ones. He’s recently lost his private eye license and is trying to hold his family together taking jobs under the table. Even worse, there’s no real pressure to do anything other than his own pride because his wife can pay the bills. Then he gets asked by a dying musician to find her biological father. Since she’s terminal, the case comes with an expiration date.

There’s also an added oddity. Her bio dad’s murder may be related to the Zombie, a serial killer who’s been working for years. Colt is reluctant to take the case, but all the right buttons are being pushed. He needs something to occupy his time. So he goes to Key West and digs in.

At first the book acts like a traditional private eye novel. I could imagine Jim Rockford poking around in something like this. Then everything turns vile and nasty as Colt digs his way into all manner of crime and evil.

The book is a definite page turner. Readers won’t just be reading to find out who killed the bio dad, but to find out if Colt is going to survive his latest investigation and when his path is going to intersect that of the Zombie. All of these things happen, of course. Hardin just keeps the pacing and action up to the level that readers aren’t going to be sure WHEN Colt is going to deal with one thing or another.

The book also reminds me of those old Gold Medal novels I read as a kid (and still pick up and read with the same guilty pleasure). Hardin doesn’t worry about telling a realistic story so much as an entertaining one. And Colt is a larger than life hero who plays fast and loose with laws when the chips are down.

Now that I’ve read this one, I’m going back to the beginning and trying to get caught up. There’s a new Colt novel coming out in November, so I’m on a time line too.

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