Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mystery Book Review: The Only Pure Thing by Patrick Hyde

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of The Only Pure Thing by Patrick Hyde. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Only Pure Thing by Patrick Hyde

The Only Pure Thing by Patrick Hyde
A Stuart Clay Mystery

Beckham Publications Group (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-931761-61-1 (0931761611)
ISBN-13: 978-0-931761-61-4 (9780931761614)
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $14.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): When Benny Batiste's head winds up on a Georgetown parking meter, defense attorney Stuart Clay inherits his problems. Police discover Cleveland Barnes wearing a green army raincoat, a battered top hat, and bloodied Bally loafers. As Benny was found both headless and shoeless, Cleveland is charged with murder and Stuart is appointed to represent him.

Stuart thinks Cleveland is a hapless street person who filched some shoes. The police insist that things are not so simple. Pursuit of the case leads to clues that connect a band of homeless living under the Key Bridge, the Bronx mob, the urban renaissance of Washington, D.C., and a malignant evil so dark that it threatens to consume Stuart's very existence.

Review: Patrick Hyde's debut mystery, The Only Pure Thing, introduces Washington DC criminal attorney Stuart Clay who is assigned to defend Cleveland Barnes, a homeless man accused of the murder of a man whose head was found on a parking meter and whose shoes were found on Barnes' feet.

The Only Pure Thing is not a typical legal mystery ... and the better for it. It's virtually impossible to predict where the plot of this book is heading, the result being the reader enjoys the journey almost as much as Stuart Clay in taking it. The ending is a bit over the top, but that's a minor flaw.

Hyde has a deft style of writing, and he vividly portrays the nation's capital from an insider perspective. In describing Barnes and the other homeless people in his sphere, he writes, "I [Stuart Clay] concluded that Cleveland didn't even know the people under the bridge. He and the others coexisted in a psychic half light, stranger to each other in a shared reality. They clung to a subterranean world the way the oppressed poor and sick cling to flawed ideas the world over. They huddled from a distance not of geography but of mind." This is powerful and perceptive prose. And in a clever nod towards the O. J. Simpson trial, he crafts the sound bite, "Bloody Ballys don't prove murder", that becomes a rallying cry for Barnes' supporters.

The Only Pure Thing is a strong start for Stuart Clay. If subsequent books share the same strength in plot and characterization, it will definitely be a series worth reading.

Special thanks to Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity for providing a copy of The Only Pure Thing for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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