Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mystery Book Review: Where Armadillos Go To Die by James Hime

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Where Armadillos Go To Die by James Hime. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Where Armadillos Go To Die by James Hime

by
A Jeremiah Spur Mystery

St. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0-312-53486-8 (0312534868)
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-53486-8 (9780312534868)
Publication Date: November 2009
List Price: $25.99

Review: Retired Texas Ranger Jeremiah Spur is drawn into the investigation of a restaurant owner gone missing in Where Armadillos Go To Die, the outstanding third mystery in this series by James Hime.

Sylvester Bradshaw owns one of the most popular restaurants in Washington County, Texas. His catfish always tastes clean and fresh, and customers from as far away as Houston, even people who don't like the cantankerous man, show up to dine there. His secret: a machine that removes impurities from the fish. But he's ultra-secretive about the device, refusing to market or even license it. When he -- and his invention -- disappears one evening, his sons don't seem all that worried. But his daughter is, asking Jeremiah to look into what might have happened.

The great appeal of Where Armadillos Go To Die is in its narrative style that seems to perfectly capture living and working in a small town in Texas. It's homey, at times a bit quirky, and always enjoyable. The richly drawn characters -- and there are quite a few of them -- are as varied as the landscape of ranchland is not, and include infomercial king Big Ty Daniels ("known the world over for his gridiron feats and his toaster oven"); Robert Bruni, an attorney from Houston who seems to know more than he lets on; Clyde Thomas, a security salesman and part-time PI looking for his big break; and Jeremiah's wife Martha, a gentlewoman who's the very definition of the word.

About the only weakness in Where Armadillos Go To Die is that it really isn't much of a mystery. The plot gently rolls along, steady and sure, but the surprises are few, the outcome long foreshadowed. Still, everything else about the book is so well done that it's well worth accompanying Jeremiah Spur on his investigation into the circumstances surrounding the missing inventor.

The title is taken from the lyrics of a fictional country song that "tended to put Jeremiah in mind of Washington County itself", the last verse of which goes ...

Lord give me the grace
'Fore we meet face to face
Without so much as a sigh
My fate in Your hands
To accept like a man
Where armadillos go to die.

Special thanks to St. Martin's Minotaur for providing a copy of Where Armadillos Go To Die for this review.

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

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Synopsis (from the publisher): Sylvester Bradshaw owns the Bouree restaurant, home of the best catfish within a hundred miles of Brenham, Texas. Besides being known for his cooking and for being one of the town’s nastiest residents, he also happens to have invented a machine that several venture capitalists and one former NFL star would like to invest in at almost any cost. But Bradshaw -- stubborn and miserly -- can’t be enticed no matter what offer they put on the table. Nobody gets a look and nobody gets to know how the device works, not even his family.

When the restaurant is ransacked and he goes missing, the only person willing to take his disappearance seriously is Jeremiah Spur. The retired Texas Ranger and rancher is a dedicated customer, if not a friend, which makes him the only man on whom the Bradshaws can pin their hopes.

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