Known for his engaging and very good Arthur Conan Edwards (Ace) mystery series, author Randy Rawls is going in a new direction with Death by Diamonds: A Beth Bowman Mystery. Set in South Florida and featuring a tough female private investigator, this character and series is nothing like Ace. Everything about her and what she will do is different---not just her gender.
Beth Bowman is on a rather routine assignment in South Florida working surveillance on a cheating husband. Mr. Garcia is a cheater, according to his wife, who has paid private investigator Beth Bowman good money for proof of his indiscretions. After tailing him by car, Beth follows him on foot right into an elevator located in an upscale high rise hotel. Upon arriving on his floor, she holds the doors open and watches while he walks down the hall and knocks on a room door.
Let into the room with Bowman slowly following from down the hall, it quickly becomes clear this is not a romantic tryst for Mr. Garcia. Instead, there is some sort of altercation going on and Beth walks straight into an ambush and is left unconscious.
When the cobwebs clear, it is obvious that Mr. Garcia is dead and Bowman has been framed for murder. While the local police in the form of Detective Bannon and Detective Sargent seem predisposed to believe she killed the philandering husband, Bowman knows she didn't. She also knows that she has to find who did and why and deliver a bit of karmic payback to the ones that tried to frame her. All Bowman has is her reputation and once that is lost, her career is over as a private investigator. In a complex case that twists and turns, P. I. Bowman gets a lot of help from old friends and unexpected allies.
This first book in a planned new series is another good one from author Randy Rawls. Filled with plenty of action and mystery as well as some romance, this is a read told primarily from the pov of Beth Bowman that delivers in all aspects. While there are similarities that immediately come to mind regarding a Stephanie Plum type character, Bowman is not going to forget to take her gun with her to meet somebody at two in the morning at an abandoned warehouse. She also is not going to dither between men, talk nasty, or do any of a number of other things that are supposed to be cute– and quickly grow annoying for the reader. Beth Bowman is a smart and capable private investigator who just happens to be a woman.
Sure she does make mistakes at times and when she does they are believable real world mistakes. Her mother is constantly in her business and that drives her nuts. She does have self-doubt and the romance that has begun as a secondary storyline to the case does give her some concern. Instead of being an idiot or superwoman, she is believably real and human in all aspects.
As are all the other characters in this fast paced novel that features plenty of action, mystery and the beginnings of a romance. The book is a solid foundation to what should be a good series from the mind of author Randy Rawls. While longtime fans may be disappointed it is not an Ace novel, they can take solace in the fact that Beth Bowman rocks.
Death by Diamonds: A Beth Bowman Mystery
Material provided by the author in exchange for my objective review. This reviewer read the book using the Kindle for the PC program provided free by Amazon.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2010