Monday, July 13, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Parker Takes a Bullet by Lewis Hall

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Parker Takes a Bullet by Lewis Hall. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Parker Takes a Bullet by Lewis Hall

An Evelyn Parker Mystery

Elevated Lab Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-4392-3641-0 (1439236410)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4392-3641-3 (9781439236413)
Publication Date: May 2009
List Price: $14.99

Review: Lewis Hall introduces Evelyn Parker, a 20ish woman who recently lost both her mother, to suicide, and her father, a cop killed by a suspicious fire in his home, in the first of a proposed series, Parker Takes a Bullet.

Evelyn, who just recently moved out on her own and works in an animal shelter, is devastated by her father's death. She's convinced he was murdered, but his own police department isn't so sure. A large cash deposit recently made into his bank account suggests maybe he was a cop on the take in a deal that went bad. Determined to clear his name, Evelyn starts from some notes written by her father related to his most recent case, and a list he made with seemingly unrelated words: computers, big black car, no license, boxster, dead, bacon, baseball cap, Russian. When her investigation leads her to a Russian native who's a computer expert and the owner a Boxster, she knows she's making progress. But then the FBI step in looking for this very same person but for a different reason. Afraid that she'll never solve her father's murder if the FBI take away her best lead, she convinces him to evade the authorities all the while digging for information about her dad.

Parker Takes a Bullet is a fast-paced thriller with a strong, well-developed plot. Its weakest element, and a debatable one at that, is the character of Evelyn Parker, the series lead. Portrayed as an independent, no-nonsense, and otherwise reasonably intelligent young woman, she nevertheless constantly ignores sound advice, disregards direct orders, breaks laws, commits felonies, and endangers not only herself but everyone around her. She often uses a "the means justifies the end" rationale to support her actions. For example, recalling that her father once said, "A judge should focus on the motivation behind a crime, not on the act itself," she provides herself with comfort that stealing her father's files from police headquarters was the proper thing to do. (The frequent use of quotes by her father is actually one of the more appealing aspects of the book. No doubt intended to keep Evelyn grounded, she sometimes, well, rather frequently, twists them to suit her own, at present, needs.) Some readers might view Evelyn as a good triumphing over evil kind of superhero; others may just roll their eyes at some of her actions, from running (unarmed) after a man (armed) who just tried to kill her, to rather easily breaking out of a secure detention center, to shooting out the tires of a jet while standing in its path on an active runway. That the authorities continue to allow her to get away with all this is part of her charm. Or maybe they're just that inept.

Though Evelyn Parker is clearly the center of attention here, like her or not, it's the plot and, admittedly, the non-stop action that pull readers along. In the end there are a few unresolved plot points, but otherwise Parker Takes a Bullet is an entertaining and unforgettable thriller.

Special thanks to Lewis Hall for providing a copy of Parker Takes a Bullet for this review.

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

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Synopsis (from the publisher): My dad a drug dealer?

At a time when she should have been thinking about what frothy dress to wear to the senior prom, Evelyn Parker, still reeling from her mother’s suicide, has to face this troubling question. Worse, the fact that her father’s incinerated body is found shortly after a huge cash deposit was made in his bank account leaves his colleagues in the Sheriff’s Department convinced he was on the take.

But, growing up the daughter of a detective, Evelyn learned a few things about police work. When the investigation into her father’s murder grinds to a halt, Evelyn decides to do some sleuthing of her own, determined to exonerate her dad. In the process she plays loose with the law, tails a too-charming suspect, uncovers a worldwide web of international crime, and learns that things are not always how they appear.

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  1. This is a great read! I really enjoyed the story and the characters. Looking forward to the next one. I know this will be a great series.

    V. Riley

  2. This is a very thorough and, overall, a nice review. Thank you. At issue is the reviewer’s statement that the character of Evelyn Parker is the story’s “weakest element”. The character, contrary to what the reviewer seems to believe, is not “20ish”. She has just turned eighteen-years-old (revealed on the first page, fourth line) and recently lost both parents. This makes her a rather confused teenager and, like most kids her age, she acts on impulse when under pressure. If Evelyn were a mature woman, her actions could feel somewhat unnatural. But she is not mature; she is a teenager. Her impetuous nature combined with her courage is what catapults her into the precarious situations that form this story.

    Lewis Hall

    (posted by MBN at the request of Lewis Hall)

  3. Thanks for the comments, Lewis. Evelyn's age has been corrected in the archived review on Mysterious Reviews.

  4. This book is cool. A very good mystery.

    Cole Plante

  5. Parker is a believable character -- one that most of us can identify with because she is NOT perfect! The mystery stars in the first sentence and the action doesn't stop. I want more!



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