Friday, August 31, 2012

Two Mysteries by David Bishop PG13 LVS

Bishop, David. The Blackmail Club: A Jack McCall Mystery. Longboat Key, FL: Telemachus Press, February 2012
Dr. Christopher Andujar is found dead at his desk with a gunshot wound to the head and his left hand cradling the gun. The police closed the open and shut case with the label, suicide. His wife, Sarah, believes her husband was being blackmailed, making the blackmailer a murderer. The safe deposit box was empty. Two months before, after Christopher paid off their home mortgage, he told Sarah the safety deposit box held one-quarter of a million dollars, enough for him to retire.

After Jack and Rachel Johnstone closed the case known as The Third Coincidence, he resigned from the CIA, and she left the FBI. After their honeymoon, they opened McCall investigations with Nora Burke, former DC homicide detective. Then, Rachel was killed by a hit-and-run driver and Jack spent four months in the Middle East to be sure his wife’s death was not a blowback from his counterintelligence service. Now Christopher, his father figure and friend, is dead.

Then, a body, dead for two days, is found in the dumpster behind his office building with The John Doe has Christopher’s son’s business card, Donny’s Gentlemen’s Club in the cigarette pack rolled up in the sleeve of his shirt. On the back of the card is McCall Investigations name and number. And the mystery-roller-coaster-ride begins.

This mystery is straightforward, but contains just enough red-herrings to keep the reader guessing. Bishop’s imagery and details match Washington DC and Northern Virginia. Just enough particulars bring the impression the reader knows the characters, and could expect to recognize them in a coffee shop or on the street.

Bishop establishes conflict in the first chapter.  He continues to push the storyline forward with complications and compelling narrative and dialogue as Jack McCall moves around the poker table. The author’s complement of exposition, scene, and dialogue shows an increase in control of his craft. Even Jack McCall misses clues. There is just enough romance to relieve Jack McCall of his grief without forcing him to choose between his partner and his neighbor.

Jack’s final throwaway (literally) line sums the book and the case well: “life is a series of choices …. In the final analysis, justice is a perfect concept we struggle to apply to imperfect people and circumstances.”
Bishop, David. Who Murdered Garson Talmadge? A Matthew Kile Mystery. Longboat Key, FL: Telemachus Press, August 2012.

Matt Kile is more hardboiled than Jack McCall, bringing visions of Sam Spade and Humphrey Bogart. Written from Matt’s point of view the story is relentless and filled with snappy dialogue. There is a potent mix of characters from family to international arms dealers and the FBI. The plot takes Matt and the reader from California to Paris through a suspense-filled story with sufficient twists and turns to keep readers turning pages.

Kile is mystery novelist and ex-sergeant from the Long Beach police department who has spent four years in prison for murdering a thug on the courthouse steps. Kile was the arresting officer of the murdering, raping scum tried for assault and battery because the judge ruled the police search illegal and everything else fell with it including the admission of guilt. The man spit on and punched husband and father of the murdered family. Kile, with cameras rolling, drew his service revolver and emptied it into the lowlife.

Six years later, Kile is about to have breakfast with his neighbors Clarice and Garson Talmadge. As he walks out his door, his phone rings. It is Clarice. His former partner, now Detective Sergeant Fidgery is standing in Garson’s bedroom. Kile’s elderly neighbor is dead, shot from up close.

Fidgery tells Kile he has just finished reading Matt’s newest and best mystery The Blackmail Club. Inducing shades of Richard Castle (Castle, started airing in 2009, and currently airing on ABC), Jessica Fletcher (Murder She Wrote, aired for twelve years from 1984-1996, and is currently internationally syndicated and showing on TVLand in the United States) and Ellery Queen, (Ellery Queen only aired one season on NBC in 1975-1976). Kile would not be aired except on cable channels because as he says, “Sex for pure lust is not worthless. Not all of us are fortunate enough to have someone we love deeply in our lives every time we get a case of the galloping hornies.”

He also seems unable to share the facts he knows with Fidgery without couching it in literary description. Kile and Fidgery check in with one another and together but separately solve the mystery.

David Bishop enjoyed a varied career as an entrepreneur writing articles and even a book on business published in three languages. “Eventually, he began using his abilities as an analyst to craft the twist and turns and salting of clues so essential to fine mystery writing.” 

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