Monday, November 28, 2022

Aubrey Nye Hamilton Reviews: Worst Enemies by Dana King

Dana King is another of those authors whose books deserve more attention than they receive. He has two series characters, Chicago private investigator Nick Forte and Penns River police detective Ben Dougherty. His short fiction has appeared in Thuglit , Mystery TribuneNew Mystery ReaderA Twist of NoirMysterical-E, and Powder Burn Flash  as well as a range of anthologies.

Worst Enemies (Down & Out Books, 2016), the first of seven books about Penns River, an economically fading suburb of Pittsburgh, starts with what looks like a residential break-in complicated by murder. A second homicide takes place a week later. Detective Ben Dougherty has nothing but unanswered questions while the town council and the local media become increasingly critical about the sudden spurt of major crime in their backwater community and local law enforcement’s failure to deal with it.

The Pittsburgh mob boss, who lives in Penns River, becomes involved, as do a local drug dealer and a couple of abandoned kids who have escaped their foster home. An ex-spook turned PI who is not above a spot of blackmail turns up. The politics of the small town and the police department are at issue, as the deputy police chief maneuvers with the city council for promotion. The encroachment of big city crime on rural areas is an underlying theme, as in the Quinn Colson series by Ace Atkins. And Dougherty’s mother wants to know if he’s dating anyone nice. Multiple story lines and lots of fully realized characters make the narrative complex, yet highly readable.

King didn’t have to look far to find a model for his fictional town; industry loss in western Pennsylvania created many communities just like Penns River. And can he plot! The various threads are spun with detail and then carefully gathered by the end into a cohesive whole. A police procedural and social commentary rolled into a fine piece of crime fiction that will also be of interest to fans of regional mysteries and of small-town detective stories. Recommended.


·         Publisher: Down & Out Books (October 15, 2016)

·         Language:  English

·         Paperback: 400 pages

·         ISBN-10: 1943402426

·         ISBN-13:  978-1943402427


Aubrey Nye Hamilton ©2022 

Aubrey Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and reads mysteries at night.

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