Friday, August 19, 2011

FFB Review: "Early's Pride" by Bobby Jaye Allen

Friday means it is time for Friday’s Forgotten Books hosted by the always wonderful Patti Abbott. With so much hard edged stuff around here lately between my own life and those updates (our thrid scare in a week with Sandi last night but I think everything is okay right now this morning) and recent book reviews, I thought something with a softer edge to it was appropriate. Besides all that, Early's Pride by Bobby Jaye Allen is a very good book.

 Rezoning land use is always a big issue whether it is in small town America or the big city. It is sure to be contentious and fact that it revolves around Pride Park in this cozy mystery is a guarantee of trouble for all concerned. As the novel opens, it is just after Christmas in the small town of Early, Michigan. Rick Cameo is director of services for the small town and in so doing has gained operational control over a number of diverse departments. At the same time, his job duties and his marriage does not stop him from making the time to have a varied and active social life with a number of the women in town. He has also managed to find the time to develop a new use for Pride Park, the small town's gem. He wants to end the current zoning concerning Pride Park and turn it over to developers who will build a mixed-use retail development on the site. Theoretically, the retail development will bring badly need jobs as well as boosting the tax base. The fact that allowing this to happen would obliterate a beautiful park as well as costing jobs in the local shops forced to close is irrelevant to Rick Cameo. Plenty of folks are against the idea, but Rick knows the dirt on a number of folks as well as knowing who needs to be paid off, in addition to himself, to make sure the deal goes through.

But, before he can get the ball rolling downhill too fast to stop, Rick is found dead in his hotel room. Other than the fact that he is fully dressed as well as wet, there are few clues for the local Police to work with. While they mean well, they are clearly overmatched in this case, which is just the latest in a string off odd events and death for the local citizenry. Councilwoman Joyce Fellmeyer realizes that they need help and her old friend retired Homicide Detective Brady Kincaid would be just the man to help.

She convinces a local star reporter, Geraldine Pozy, that Brady could come in to town on a press pass and act as a consultant to the local paper while he works on the case. Geraldine is always on the lookout for a good story and sees her point. To do so would allow him to unofficially help the Police, clear the case, and provide source material for Geraldine. 

Geraldine agrees as does a very bored Brady and soon the two are working the case from their perspective angels of expertise. It becomes clear that the Police effort, well meaning but woefully lacking, extends beyond this case. The death of Rick is definitely linked to other deaths as well as various odd happenings about town.

As in most cozy type mysteries, the action in this novel is very limited as compared to the traditional mystery. The novel relies primarily on character development and sleuthing through question and comparing suspects, to move the story slowly forward. The list of suspects is very long and the trail often confusing as so many of the citizens are far different than what they appear to be everyday. Despite the lack of action, the story is very entertaining and the novel is a fine example of what can be done with a cozy type of mystery. 

Kevin R. Tipple © 2003, 2011

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