Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mystery Book Review: The Ragged End of Nowhere by Roy Chaney

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of The Ragged End of Nowhere by Roy Chaney. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Ragged End of Nowhere by Roy Chaney


St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-58253-6 (0312582536)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-58253-1 (9780312582531)
Publication Date: November 2009
List Price: $24.99

Review: Winner of the 2008 Tony Hillerman Prize for best first novel set in the southwest US and representing the style of the late Tony Hillerman, Roy Chaney crafts a murder mystery surrounding the theft of an unusual artifact in The Ragged Edge of Nowhere.

Bodo Hagen and his brother Ronnie went their separate ways following the death of their father. Bodo joined the CIA and was stationed in Berlin while Ronnie joined the French Foreign Legion, a unit of the French Army in which their father also served. When Bodo receives word that Ronnie had been murdered in the desert outside their hometown of Las Vegas, he returns to not only pay his respects, but look into who might have wanted his brother dead ... and why.

It seems Ronnie had been trying to fence a rare artifact, a wooden hand with a broken finger. A dealer in antiquities believes it may have originated at a monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church, part of a statue of Jesus that was crafted with articulated features that was believed destroyed by fire. Quite unique and very valuable, if it can be found and authenticated. As Bodo continues his investigation it becomes increasingly clear to him that he's not seeing the whole picture, and when certain individuals think he may have the hand, or at least know where it is, his life, too, is in danger.

Chaney has a real flair for time and place, deftly painting Las Vegas as a city of hopes and dreams, but also one of disappointment and despair. Some readers may groan or roll their eyes believing this is yet another religious artifact thriller, and to be fair, the basic plotline is rather derivative, but The Ragged Edge of Nowhere is far more nuanced. Not only is it exceptionally well written and populated with intricately drawn characters, the artifact's origin will likely come as a surprise, as will the fact that it is a real, historical object.

Though not indicated as the first in a series featuring Bodo Hagen, the abrupt manner in which this book ends suggests a sequel with this most interesting character may be forthcoming.

Special thanks to St. Martin's Minotaur for providing a copy of The Ragged End of Nowhere for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Bodo Hagen thought his family had left Las Vegas for good. He had joined the CIA and moved to Berlin, while his younger brother had followed in their father’s footsteps and joined the French Foreign Legion. For a while they were free from the criminal underworld upon which the Vegas Strip was built.

But when his Legion contract ended, Bodo's brother returned to Las Vegas. Five days later his body was found on the edge of the desert. Word is that he’d returned from Europe with a valuable—and possibly stolen—ancient relic to sell. Now Bodo must come back and track down that missing artifact—and with it, his brother’s killer.

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Lance Wright owns and manages Omnimystery, a Family of Mystery Websites, which had its origin as Hidden Staircase Mystery Books in 1986. As the scope of the business expanded, first into book reviews — Mysterious Reviews — and later into information for and reviews of mystery and suspense television and film, all sites were consolidated under the Omnimystery brand in 2006.

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