Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Olive Horseshoe by Ben F. Small

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Olive Horseshoe by Ben F. Small. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Olive Horseshoe by Ben F. SmallBuy from Amazon.com

The Olive Horseshoe by
Non-series

Night Shadows Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-9799167-3-9 (0979916739)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9799167-3-1 (9780979916731)
Publication Date: February 2008
List Price: $29.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Billionaire Denton Wright is kayaking in the wilderness when his father’s mutilated body washes up on the Spanish coast. Denton’s father and another man were slaughtered in a drug cartel’s signature way: The Columbian Necktie. The father-son relationship had figured large in Denton's wilderness trek. Now he burns with a passion: payback against whoever butchered the father he never really knew. It would not be easy. There was:

Beautiful but calculating Jenna Rogers in California, whose father was murdered alongside Denton's, and she had plans of her own.

Carlos La Jolla, Jenna’s companion, a hot-blooded Latin with a sculpted body and black belt training, whose eyes give away nothing except a challenge to fight.

Joe Corsano, in business with Denton's father, working some devious gambit of his own.

Denton Wright must navigate all of it as he’s drawn into an intrigue of evil on a global scale. When he learns of The Olive Horseshoe, innocent and guilty alike start to die.

Review: A billionaire seeks answers in the brutal murder of his father in The Olive Horseshoe, an uneven and at times perplexing (and not in a good way) international thriller by Ben F. Small.

Denton Wright returns from a trip to Maine to find his Manhattan home trashed. But there's worse news: during his absence, his father had been murdered in Spain, his body mutilated and bearing the mark of a drug cartel. The Spanish authorities have no suspects and seem unwilling to devote much effort to finding the people responsible. In New York the police believe Denton's break-in was simply that, nothing more. But Denton thinks the two events are related. When he receives a phone call from the daughter of the man killed alongside his father, he meets her and together they decide to do what the police on two continents aren't doing: bring those responsible for their fathers' deaths to justice, regardless of cost.

As a reader, it's interesting to imagine how the plot of The Olive Horseshoe might have unfolded had Denton not been a billionaire with the unlimited financial resources to pursue his quest but instead an average New Yorker facing a personal crisis. It would have started with the compelling opening pages in Spain and ended with the rather predictable conclusion in New York, but there would have been no need for the intervening trans-continental and trans-Atlantic trips on chartered jets, stays at 5-star resorts in Morocco and Spain, and, more importantly, the pointless deaths of several characters. That's the real problem here: the foundation upon which Denton decides to do everything he does is weak, practically non-existent, and the reader knows it.

That being said, The Olive Horseshoe moves along at a brisk pace and the secondary characters bring what little story there is alive in a way the four main characters do not. There is the occasional plot point that captures the reader's imagination but inexplicably isn't fully developed. What could have been, should have been, an intriguing and complex thriller set in exotic locales instead turns into little more than an overly long and largely disappointing travelogue.

Special thanks to Night Shadows Press for providing a trade paperback copy of The Olive Horseshoe for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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