Michael Mears

Michael Mears is a trial lawyer who started out as a big city prosecutor and then "graduated" to the civil arena with a concentration in business litigation. Before retiring early, he first-chaired over 100 jury trials. While a trial lawyer, Mears relaxed by reading a mixture of U.S. and world history as well as fiction, primarily mysteries and thrillers. Mears is well traveled in Europe, which is reflected in his first two historical mysteries, respectively set in Berlin and Paris.

While still practicing law, Mears began writing, was hooked, and found  ...See more >

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". . . a powerhouse whodunit on a grand scale."

Kirkus Reviews



Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2012: CHASING DIETRICH


Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1499399608
Page count: 332pp
In Mears’ retro thriller set in the late 1960s, a man searches for his friend’s killer with only the lyrics to his final song as clues.
Jack Penn returns from two tours in Vietnam to find that his best friend and former bandmate, Tommy, has fallen from a window to his death. Jack refuses to believe that Tommy would kill himself, especially as his band, Currant, was poised for success. He takes Tommy’s cryptic lyrics (“An’ now the man, the man be after me / Seekin’ to shut my story down”) as an indication that someone may have been after him, and that his fall might actually have been a murder. Joined by his former girlfriend, Pam, and aspiring reporter Ben, Jack traces each lyrical reference in the hope of finding who’s responsible. The search takes them from the Mississippi Delta to San Francisco and encompasses many major figures and events of the late-’60s counterculture. Jack and Pam confront Tommy’s former bandmates at Woodstock and Altamont, get clues from author Hunter S. Thompson and rocker Lou Reed, and even manage to catch the moon landing live on TV. As they follow each lead, they’re drawn deeper into not only the music world, but also the criminal underworld, as they run afoul of mobsters and drug distributors. Although any of these elements may threaten readers’ suspension of disbelief, they’ll just as likely please those interested in rock ’n’ roll culture or the late ’60s in general. Mears is careful not to idealize the era, however. Jack, for example, is a man equally disillusioned by both the music world and his experience in Vietnam, and his cynical disposition and single-minded purpose drive the plot. That isn’t to say that Mears doesn’t indulge in some nostalgia; the story is rife with cultural references, but they don’t define the story and merely provide a backdrop for the action. That action drags in its final quarter, and the plot sometimes strains to encompass such a broad range of people and places. But in the end, Mears makes the story about Jack, whose hair-trigger temper and haunting memories make him an intriguing protagonist and keep the story moving.
A fun, light trip into the dark side of the ’60s.

Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1479290789
Page count: 350pp

A search for a wayward daughter in 1927 Paris leads to an investigation into a series of murders in Mears’ (Chasing Dietrich, 2011) latest mystery featuring Pinkerton detective Michael Temple.

Temple has an assignment in Paris that seems like a walk in the park: deliver a father’s letter and bring Anne Johnson home to Ohio. The detective has trouble finding her, but he meets plenty of other people along the way. The novel has a slow, deliberate build, with Temple leisurely hunting in Parisian cafes and having a romance in Luxembourg with Anne’s friend and British doppelganger, Jane. But what appears to be a tour of Europe escalates into a powerhouse whodunit on a grand scale. Temple is framed for murder, roughed up and tossed in jail repeatedly; as soon as he seems cleared of one crime, another body is found. Temple searches for the truth to clear his name in a time of communists, cons and killers. The story’s historical backdrop is richly textured: Temple is a veteran who’d only previously been to Paris during the war; there’s a strong Russian communist presence in the city; and Ernest Hemingway’s missing papers and a letter by Lenin become central to the plot. (The detective even questions Hemingway’s ex-wife, Hadley, who has to explain a Freud reference to him.) The fine-tuned dialogue is a particular highlight, from a rotund writer’s hilarious speech, interspersed with wheezing and throat clearing, to Temple’s comment that he returned home after a night of drinking “early by Paris standards, and drunk by anyone’s standards.” But the book’s most engaging quality is Temple’s adamant refusal to quit; when the police believe they’ve found the solution, all the detective sees are loose ends—which he attacks fervently. In scenes that bookend the novel, an 89-year-old Temple travels to Paris, still wanting answers to questions that are more than half a century old.

A solid historical detective story with a tenacious detective, unanticipated twists and an ample supply of suspects.

Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1461181460
Page count: 364pp

In his debut novel, Mears introduces Pinkerton detective Michael Temple, a man sent to Berlin in 1934 with one goal: bring back American film star Sara Potter.

Before he even leaves the airport, Temple is drawn into a web of murder, romance and revenge that leads to the highest echelons of Germany’s emerging Nazi power structure. Paramount hired Temple for a simple mission of retrieval: find the actress Sara Potter and convince her to return to America. Upon his arrival, another emerging starlet is sadistically murdered on the set of the German movie studio UFA, and Temple becomes a suspect. Soon, his every move is watched by the increasingly bold Gestapo; his burgeoning romance with Potter only complicates matters further. Temple’s smartass demeanor bears more than a passing resemblance to Philip Marlowe, although it remains Mears’ distinct creation since his PI is imbued with considerably more warmth than Chandler’s. One of Mears’ major achievements is his thoroughly researched, entirely believable depiction of pre–World War II Germany. His portrayal of the German capital’s streets and neighborhoods, the newspapers of the time, and even Berlin-taxi-driver slang lend the story a credibility that’s lacking in many other period mysteries. An impressive balance of both plot threads—the love story and the political intrigue—propels the story forward. In particular, the tense political climate comes through vividly: Berlin’s citizens are wary of being seen reading the “wrong” newspaper or even discussing politics with lifelong friends. Mears doesn’t shy from portraying well-known personalities, either: Herman Goering, Joseph Goebbels, Leni Riefenstahl, the Fuhrer himself, and, as the title suggests, famed screen star Marlene Dietrich all make memorable appearances. Temple is a sympathetic narrator, a vulnerable, even ultimately sentimental detective who wants not only to do his job, but endearingly, to do the right thing. The typos distract a little, and there are perhaps 50 or 60 pages too many, but Mears has created a classic gumshoe novel of the best kind—tough guys and tougher dames, plenty of cocktails, gruesome murder scenes, fast-paced action and whip-smart dialogue. In the tradition of such masters as Chandler and Hammett, it’s all here, covered in a thick patina of cigarette smoke, set to a soundtrack of swing bands and clinking beer steins.

A solid, page-turning throwback to the golden age of detective novels.