by Bruce TierneyJanuary, 2006
New mysteries start 2006 off right
It would be difficult to envision a more diverse selection of mysteries than those on offer this month: 1) a yarn of New York City power brokers and crooked politicians, and the iconoclastic PI who unearths their dirty deeds; 2) a harrowing tale of an English businesswoman with a secret after-hours life; 3) an atmospheric suspense novel of double-dealing and murder set in 1910 New Orleans; and 4) our Tip of the Ice Pick winner, a quirky and original Florida mystery featuring not one but two Jesuses, one of whom is a serial killer!Speak of the Devil, the debut novel from writer Richard Hawke, is not really his first novel. Strictly speaking, Hawke is a pseudonym for popular mystery author Tim Cockey, whose tales of funeral director/detective Hitchcock Sewell have been entertaining fans for several years. Cockey has lost neither his wit nor his edge in Speak of the Devil, yet his central character is a marked departure from the aforementioned Sewell. Fritz Malone is the illegitimate son of a former NYC police commissioner, a city-hall insider who breaks more rules than he follows, thus making close friends and bitter foes with similar ease. When Malone witnesses a cold-blooded shooting at the Thanksgiving Day parade, he is instrumental in the capture of the shooter; immediately afterward, things get Alice-in-Wonderland bizarre: Malone is blindfolded, thrown into the back of a cop car and whisked away to an unspecified location for questioning/debriefing. Before the shooter can be interrogated, he is shot to death by one of his guards. To Malone, the whole scenario reeks of a cover-up. So, of course, he decides to do a bit of clandestine snooping. Fritz Malone is an engaging new character; Hawke is a welcome addition to the Mystery Hall of Fame!