Toe Tag: In Danger of Judgment

This is thriller. Set in 1987, the thug life in Chicago kept Detectives William “Bernie” Bernardelli and Marcelle DeSantis up to their elbows in blood and guts. That life was about to get disrupted. The heroin market, cornered by two rival Mexican cartels, is being violently squeezed by the newest game in town, the Asian powered Quon. And what makes Quon powerful is an American-born mercenary turned enforcer named Robert Thornton, aka The Professor.

Bottom line: IN DANGER OF JUDGEMENT is for you if you like domestic intrigue, military operations, and stories where the definition of justice is fluid. Listen to an opening chapter here and everywhere you get your podcasts.

Let’s compare IN DANGER OF JUDGEMENT to the “perfect thriller”

Strengths of the story. The storyline, when you look from back to front, is simple. It certainly doesn’t look that way front to back, which is what kept my mind engaged, trying to unravel the story as fast as Bernie and Marcelle. But the simpleness of the underlying story is its power and why it stands up so well. Frequently when I get to the end of a thriller, I look back and all kinds of “that doesn’t make sense” and “why would he do that.” That did not happen here at all.

The story is rooted in the Vietnam War. The prologue does what it should do, setting the stage without revealing too much of what is to come. Fight scenes display a strong sense of military tactical engagement performed at a high level. (I leave it to others to validate the reality as that is not my area of expertise. I’ll just say it worked for me.)

The characters—good, bad, and ugly—are well crafted. With the possible exception of Thornton, we get glimpses of both the human side and the darker side. A large part of the appeal of this book is knowing that one of the characters are much more than they represent, but not knowing which.

The story is cleanly written with no typos or other distractions.

Where the story fell short of ideal: There were not many places this one fell short. The storyline with Quon moving into Chicago is not fully resolved at the time the book ends, but the book is not the lesser for it.

Toe Tag: See You Next Tuesday

Mysteries to Die For’s newest Toe Tag is SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY by Ken Harris. Listen to the first chapter on my website and everywhere you get your podcasts.

Follow the Link to Listen on my Website

From July 11-August 5, See You Next Tuesday is on tour with Partners in Crime. Check out the tour link for more content and information https://www.partnersincrimetours.net/see-you-next-tuesday-by-ken-harris/

TG Wolff Review

This is a Private Investigator and grift story. The dynamic team of Steve Rochfish and Jawnie McGee tackle their first case as full partners. A line from later in the book gives the perfect synopsis. It’s a simple cheating husband case turned into a search and rescue, cult exfiltration and a wild ride that comes back to two old guys getting ripped off.

Rating See You Next Tuesday on a 5-point scale against the “perfect PI story”, I give this 5.00.

Strengths of the story. By now, you all know I’m hell on logic and Harris lives up to the bar. The actions of all the characters made sense for who they were. Rockfish and McGee drive the story, interfering with the bad guys plans, and the bad guys react, changing plans in a way that both creates unexpected twists and is totally reasonable given the change in their circumstances. Harris thoroughly developed his story, giving his detective material to work with. He worked them into a corner a time or two and let them fight their way out.

I liked both lead characters. Rockfish is older and has the mindset and habits that reflect those of us born in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Jawnie is his counterbalance, rooted in modern times in terms of technology, mindset, and vernacular. While either character could have been stereotypical, neither are and what really makes them work is the mutual respect and affection they have for each other.

Where the story fell short of the ideal. The first half of the story alternates between Rockfish’s and Jawnie’s points of view. As the story progresses, we have scenes written from the POV for their new Confidential Informant Lynn and, later, the bad guys. Information the reader gains here could not come from Rockfish or Jawnie. Often, I am not a fan of changing the storytelling style mid-book, but Harris did them very well. These changes in POV were the reason the logic and the story were able to stand up as strongly as they did. There were a few stylistic elements that were not my favorite but those were certainly personal preferences. Some minor editing misses were found, but not enough to detract from the story.

Bottom line: See You Next Tuesday is for you if you like PI’s who like to mix it up with the bad guys and refuse to quit—even after the cops tell them too.