Friday, June 17, 2016

FFB Review: "KILLED ON THE ROCKS" (1990) by William L. DeAndrea (Reviewed by Barry Ergang)

Barry got tired of me contributing repeats for FFB so he did an all new review. Make sure you check out the full list over on Patti’s blog after you read Barry’s work below.

KILLED ON THE ROCKS (1990) by William L. DeAndrea

Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Matt Cobb is the vice-president of the Special Projects division of a television network identified only as “the Network.” As he explains in his first-person narrative: “‘Special Projects’ is the title some nameless propaganda genius gave years ago to the part of the Network that would handle everything too nasty for the Legal Department, and too sensitive for Public Relations…I’d never lusted after the job, and sometimes I didn’t want it now, but I had it, and I did the best I could. I tried to keep things as legal as necessary and as moral as possible.”

The network has been targeted for a takeover by billionaire G.B. Dost, who “bought companies the way a kid bought baseball cards, and treated them that way, too: collecting them, trading them, rearranging them, and for all I know, flipping them against other corporate raiders to see who could get his company closest to the stoop without touching, winner take all.” But the Network’s president tells Cobb someone is trying to quash the deal, shows him an anonymous letter of warning, and assigns him to accompany a number of other Network personnel to Dost’s northern New York estate, the aptly-named Rocky Point, where negotiations are supposed to begin in a home whose residents, regular and temporary, include Dost, his wife, his son, his business partner, and his longtime domestic help.  

It’s February, it’s been snowing in the Rocky Point area periodically for weeks, and it’s snowing on the drive up. In fact, it’s becoming a major snowstorm. And so we have the setup for a very entertaining take on a classic “impossible crime” situation: a murder victim—in this case Dost—found in a field of unmarked snow. The nature of the murder is such that the killer would have to be close to the victim. Traditionally, the only footprints in the snow would be the victim’s, leaving readers and detectives to ponder how the murderer could have approached and slain the victim, then departed without leaving prints of his or her own. For Matt Cobb the question becomes not only who killed Dost, but also how and why his body lay a significant distance from the house in utterly unmarked snow.

 Killed on the Rocks is written in an engagingly wry-toned conversational style and filled with its share of semi-hardboiled action and reasonably well-differentiated characters. This is the first of this author’s series that I’ve read, though I’ve known of it for years. I cannot only recommend Killed on the Rocks as a clever, fast-paced diversion, I’m sure if I’m lucky to live long enough, I’ll read other Matt Cobb mysteries.

Warning: some occasional raw language, including a fewbut not a lot off-bombs, so those easily offended will want to avoid this one.

© Barry Ergang 2016

Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang’s most recent e-book offerings—at both Smashwords and Amazon—are the fantasy for children “The Boy Who Ate Rainbows” and “The Vole Eater,” a parody of science fiction grand master Mike Resnick’s The Soul Eater.


Earl Staggs said...

Sounds like a good one, Barry.

Rick Robinson said...

I certainly remember DeAndrea's column, J'Acusse!, and I have his The Manx Murders on the shelf unread, but I haven't read this one or any of the others. Perhaps I need to rectify that.

Barry Ergang said...

It's definitely a good one, Earl.

As I said in the review, Richard, I hope to read more of DeAndrea's work because this one was a good, fast entertainment.

Mathew Paust said...

Sounds very apropos our current national mood, especially toward the corporate media. Enjoyed the review, Barry.