Thursday, August 23, 2007

Mystery Book Review: Stuff to Die For by Don Bruns

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of Stuff to Die For by Don Bruns. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.Stuff to Die For by Don Bruns

Stuff to Die For by
A James Lessor and Skip Moore Mystery

Oceanview Publishing (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-933515-10-4 (1933515104)
ISBN-13: 978-1-933515-10-6 (9781933515106)
Publication Date: September 2007
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Best friends James Lessor and Skip Moore are hardly on the fast track. While James works as a line cook at Cap'n Crab, Skip spends his days selling—or rather, attempting to sell—security systems to people who (a) have no money, and (b) have nothing they care to protect.

James and Skip aren't upwardly mobile, but they're about to get literally mobile when James spends a surprise inheritance on a white box truck. An investment in the future, he surmises, as these two are starting a business—solely devoted to hauling other people's stuff.

But the fledgling business takes a shocking turn when James and Skip unload the contents of their first moving job and find some unexpected cargo—a bloody human finger.

James and Skip must scramble to stay one step ahead of the perpetrators of the gruesome crime in this witty, gritty mystery about big dreams, big ideas—and big trouble.

Instead of chasing the American dream, James and Skip will be running for their lives.

Review: Don Bruns, author of the Mick Sever rock-and-roll mysteries, introduces a new series featuring James Lessor and Skip Moore, two underemployed best friends and roommates living in south Florida, in Stuff to Die For, a comedy-buddy-mystery that for the most part works on all three levels.

It sounded like a good idea at the time. Skip (who narrates the story) and James decide to get into the hauling business. Everybody's got stuff they need to move and they (mostly James) think what with a little luck and hard work they can parlay their newly acquired box truck into a fleet in a few years. Never mind that neither one knows how to back up a truck without damaging something. Their first job comes via a reference: their friend Emily knows a woman who's going through a divorce and wants her husband's stuff hauled away. Seems easy enough, until while putting the stuff into storage, they discover a human finger with a class ring attached bearing the name of same school and graduating year as Skip and James. Maybe this plan of hauling other people's stuff wasn't such a good idea after all.

The plot gets a little complicated at this point. The finger belongs to the class jock, Vic Maitlin, who, unbeknownst to but a few, saved Skip's life in high school. Consequently, Skip feels obligated to find out what transpired to cause Vic's finger to be in his possession. He and James end up getting hired to locate Vic by his father, an investor who is mixed up with a group of Cuban exiles plotting an invasion of their homeland. This all could have ended up being rather silly, or worse seriously dull, but Bruns handles it reasonably well, keeping the plot moving briskly forward, avoiding (with one notable exception) tangential plot points that would detract from the story, and instilling the characters with endearing qualities. The one exception is the incongruent subplot involving Emily's pregnancy that serves no relevant purpose being in this book.

Stuff to Die For doesn't pretend to be more than it is, escapist fun in the form of a generally entertaining mystery. If for that reason alone, it deserves considerable credit.

Special thanks to Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity for providing a copy of Stuff to Die For for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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