A righteous Texas Ranger keeps his cool as he chases shadows in a murder probe far from home.
Two thugs named Wiley and Henderson crack old Mr. Hemmings on the back of the head in his gun store and make off with a cache of weapons and ammo. The pair is intercepted by Texas Ranger John Quarrie (The Long Count, 2017), who’s forced to shoot Wiley dead before taking Henderson into custody. His capture wipes the smirk off the face of young Henderson, who depicts himself as a nearly innocent sidekick to Vietnam vet Wiley’s violent criminality. This is not the only recent crime in Deacon’s Mount. A guest at the Roosevelt Hotel has died overnight, seemingly of natural causes. John Q is suspicious because the Roosevelt is where Wylie and Henderson stayed. An empty pill bottle from New Orleans gives John Q a lead. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, Franklin and Tobie, the two men who hired Wiley and Henderson, try to figure out how to deal with John Q. When the Ranger arrives in New Orleans, who should be there to meet him but Franklin? Stern police lieutenant Colback warns John Q to get his approval for every move he makes. Key to the case is blues singer Gigi Matisse, whom Franklin and Tobie take great pains to keep away from the dogged Ranger.
Gulvin, who’s written several novels as Jeff Gulvin, writes with a quiet authority that perfectly matches his laconic hero. Though the pace sometimes slackens, sober, ethical John Q is a highly engaging protagonist.