Friday, May 15, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Server Down by J. M. Hayes

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Server Down by J. M. Hayes. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Server Down by J. M. Hayes

by
A Mad Dog and Englishman Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-627-1 (1590586271)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-627-3 (9781590586273)
Publication Date: May 2009
List Price: $24.95

Review: Harvey Edward "Mad Dog" Maddox and his brother Sheriff English return in another amusing outing in Server Down, the fifth mystery in this series by J. M. Hayes.

Mad Dog takes a contrarian view to just about everything. His current target is the Benteen County Board of Supervisors who are leaning towards approving the construction of an ethanol plant in the area that will provide jobs for county residents. But then Mad Dog takes off for Tucson with his wolf Hailey to attend a local Native American ceremony during which a police officer is murdered, stabbed with Mad Dog's Swiss Army knife. Sheriff English sends his daughter Heather, a part-time deputy, to pick up her uncle and return him home. While he's in Arizona, someone blows up Mad Dog's house in Kansas. English must not only figure out who bombed his brother's house but if it's related in any way to what's going on in Tucson. When he finally gets in touch with him, Mad Dog, still on the run, claims a creature from the computer game War of Worldcraft is the culprit and is after him, even framing him for murder. But the threats continue and get even more personal: they now include Heather.

"Madcap" (but in a good way) is the word that comes to mind while reading Server Down. Everything is just slightly over-the-top, from the characters to the settings to the situations everyone finds themselves in. Frequently frenetic with a somewhat convoluted plot (non-gamers, for example, may have a more difficult time apprecriating the nuances of an online, multi-player game and relating it to the plot), it's entertaining nonetheless -- but not likely to everyone's taste.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Server Down and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Attending the Yaqui tribe's Easter Ceremonies in Tucson should be a dream come true for a Cheyenne wannabe shaman like Mad Dog. But immediately after his midnight arrival and a thousand-mile drive from Kansas, things turn nightmarish. Mad Dog is accused of being a witch and, moments later, a policeman is murdered and Mad Dog is blamed. That makes Mad Dog and his wolf-hybrid, Hailey, targets for a city-wide manhunt with shoot-first overtones.

Mad Dog's niece, Heather English, a part-time deputy for her father in Kansas, combs Tucson's mean streets to arrange a peaceful surrender or clear her uncle by finding the real killer.

Meanwhile, someone has blown Mad Dog's house off the face of the Great Plains. Sheriff English, investigates that crime and acts as a long-distance go-between for Arizona law enforcement and his daughter and brother.

At least Mad Dog can tell the sheriff who killed the cop. Mad Dog has been playing a massive online computer game, War of Worldcraft. There, a vampire wizard has made a habit of tormenting him. He recognized the monster as the cop killer at the Yaqui ceremonies. Somehow, he says, the creature has reached out of the game to come after him in the real world. The sheriff isn't convinced. Not until he begins receiving threats from a vampire wizard on his office computer. The ghost in the machine promises death for Mad Dog and explicit and horrible tortures for Heather—half a country away, and all before dawn.

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