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A Discount For Death by Steven F. Havill

Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur  ISBN: 0312307853

Reviewed By C.J. Curry

Pasadas is a small town in southern New Mexico.  Nothing much happens there but a few traffic tickets and some mild Saturday night domestic violence.  Until late one afternoon a tragic and fatal motorcycle accident is witnessed by Under sheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman.  Hot on the tail of the motorcycle was a village police car driven by patrolman Perry Kenderman, who didn’t have his lights flashing or his siren on.  Was this hot pursuit or something more sinister?

Then one of the towns leading citizens committed suicide....or did he?  George Enriquiz had been under investigation by the Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney for insurance fraud and had not been seen for a couple of days.  He had been due to appear before the grand jury when his body was discovered in his office.  Why commit suicide over a fairly minor charge of insurance fraud?  In the course of answering this question among others, Estelle stumbles onto matters more puzzling. Was Enriquez involved in illegal pharmaceutical drugs being brought into Pasadas?  Was her own husband, surgeon Francis Guzman and the clinic he had helped to establish, involved as the evidence was indicating?  All of these questions plus the problem of how to protect the dead woman’s two children was keeping Estelle and the full resources of the Sheriff’s Department stretched thin.  With the help of Sheriff Robert Torrez and the input of former sheriff,  Bill Gastner, things finally begin coming together.

I liked Estelle Reyes-Guzman.  She is a very believable character. Steady, intelligent, and persevering, she doesn’t ‘cowboy’ as so many police/detective characters do.  She is a wife and a mother of two small children of her own and happens to love her job. And she is good at it!  This is the second book in this series and I hope to read more about her and her co-workers.

Mr. Havill has done a fine job in creating his characters AND is very well versed in Small Town New Mexico USA. He happens to live in my own ‘backyard’ of New Mexico USA. I have not read the Bill Gastner series but I now intend to correct that oversight.

 

The Man Who Risked His Partner by Stephen R. Donaldson

Publisher: Forge  ISBN: 0765302047

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan

I have never read any books in the PI Mick ‘Brew’ Axebrewder series; and for that matter I have never read any books written by Stephen Donaldson.

The blurb informs me that this is a revised edition of a book written in the early Eighties, under a pseudonym Reed Stephens. The books have since been republished as The Man Who Killed His Brother, The Man Who Fought alone etc. The book under review is the 2nd in a 4 book series.

Having not had the privilege in reading the other books in the series, and starting with this one proved to be a big mistake. The lack of continuity, the missing bits and pieces sort of left an unfinished’ feeling in me.

Well what the book is about???- well it is the story of a PI, Mick Axebrewder, @ Brew. Brew it seems is out of luck, and in doldrums after killing his brother, a policeman, in an accident. To make matters worse, Brew also was responsible for the loss of a hand of his partner, Ginny Fistoulari. The pain, the repentance, the sorrow all is there- and now he is an alcoholic.

Then a case comes up, which can make or break Brew- a good chance for redemption, and a good opportunity for making up strained relationships. But the client to put it mildly, is in DEEP DEEP DEEEEEEEEEEEEP S**T. What follows is a thrilling story of an uphill task, where both brew and Ginny try to save their client, at the same time protect their own lives.
The Man Who Risked his Partner is a regular chiller thriller- all ingredients of a ‘masala’ potboiler are there, but there is nothing new or unique about the work. I would advice readers to read the books in the series chronologically- there are too many bits and pieces left unanswered to my liking.

For a gentle evening’s read The Man Who Risked his Partner is a recommended read.