In the second Funderburk (The Fish House Gang, 2013) thriller featuring Charles “Chic” Sparks, the crime-fighting Florida psychologist takes on a crime syndicate threatening him and his love, Suzy.
Chic’s work as a profiler for law enforcement had previously put him on a case of murders, which he attributed to a criminal enterprise. This is how he met Suzy, who was in danger at the time as a potential witness. But neither he nor Suzy is safe. Chic hasn’t yet identified the enterprise; but he took out a member or two, so they may be out for revenge. Suzy’s periodic-jailbird cousin, Buck Chapman, puts Chic in touch with one of his criminal cohorts in Louisiana. Chic gets the names and locations of two individuals and, along with a Spanish-speaking detective, heads south to investigate in Mexico. Both men are soon pursued by thugs. It seems the bad guys are a step ahead, and Chic suspects a leak. As the syndicate slowly becomes more discernible, he works at dismantling it—a life-threatening task. Although the Fish House Gang (Chic’s poker pals) is disappointingly absent, Funderburk’s sophomore effort improves on the first. Like last time, the many characters are vibrant—whether they’re allies or adversaries. But females in this novel are much more distinctive, particularly villains. Judith, for example, is a proficient Colombian assassin whom the syndicate hires to hit a rival cartel’s banker; her results are memorably explosive. The author easily keeps the story moving with so many perspectives but does allow for contemplative moments: “But now the day was dying, leaving a sadness in his soul at the gradual loss of light.” A satisfying conclusion hints at another installment.
Sturdy mystery and rousing gunfights in a sequel that transcends its predecessor.