Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Dead Sand - Brendan DuBois


Shortly after a 40 year old corpse is found in the sand dunes at Tyler Beach, various nasty things start to happen.  First the body of a teenager is found hanged in a holiday cottage on the shoreline.  Then an old fisherman dies when his boat blows up early one morning after arranging to meet  Lewis Cole.  His friend, Diane Woods, is the only detective on the local force and cutbacks and spending elsewhere combine to ensure that whilst there should be a second, it's unlikely, so she's certainly overworked.   Cole tells her he has a "column to write" and becomes involved in the investigation from a distance, made stranger because an acquaintance, Felix Tinios, is a small-town mobster with Mafia support. 
Set on the New Hampshire coast, here's a great read for a beach holiday, (or a holiday at home), in fact wherever you choose to read! I saw somewhere in a review about this book that the style was somewhere between Dashiel Hammett and Mickey Spillane.  Mmm.  DuBois certainly has for a hero a laid-back guy on the surface, but underneath he is a man of mystery and certainly there are a few nice one-liners. But the style is his own.  His hero, Lewis Cole,  has several scars on his body, the cause of which will not become clear until later in the book.  He has a past life, which we know about but his characters don't, and he loves his little house on the coast. He keeps several guns, all loaded and ready.  He was in love - he isn't now,  and he writes a monthly column for a tourist magazine based in Boston, Mass.   So how does he live?  how can he afford his coastal house, his car, his meals out?  You'll find out the back story as you read, and that back story will help you understand the man he is and  how he got there.
This isn't a cozy; it is a proper murder mystery.  But it doesn't have the blood and gore of a lot of modern police procedural novels which is great for me as I am totally uninterested in how the CIS team finds out the trajectory of any given bullet through a body!   For me, this is the best kind of  detective story.  Flawed hero, man with a past, and with other characters who you want to find out more about.
This was the first of the Lewis Cole mysteries from 1994, and the last (and tenth) in the series so far  was published last year.  So if inclined, you can read your way through the rest and keep tabs on Cole; or you can just read this one and enjoy it.  I certainly did!
A big thank you to Nan of the blog Letters from a Hill Farm where I found this book in the first place.  Nan has a smallholding, six retired sheep, a donkey, a husband and three grandchildren.  She may blog about them, or her monthly floral arrangement, a recipe she's tried, or books she has read.  She shows a list of blogs she visits too, and as you do when browsing the Internet, you may find yourself sidetracked off to one of those other bloggers.........