In Allen’s debut mystery, the first of a planned series, a plucky young reporter takes matters into his own hands when his new crush goes missing.
Things look grim for Duncan Walsh, a young Northwestern University School of Journalism graduate. He was fired from his job at Chicago’s Channel 8 News for punching the lecherous (albeit Emmy-award winning) lead news anchor in the neck. As a result, Duncan struggles to get by on little money, living on “ramen noodles, five dollar foot longs, the occasional museum entrance fee, and admittedly, the occasional beer. One had to keep living.” Then he meets Agnes Nowakowski, a beguiling, sharp paleontology tour guide at the Chicago Museum of Natural History. Charmed by her brains and beauty, he takes her on a coffee date, undeterred by the fact that she’s seeing someone else. The unemployed Duncan fills his days with his pursuit of Agnes, hoping to win a second date. Eventually, the two connect by phone but don’t meet, as Agnes is slated to head off to a long archaeological dig in Montana. Duncan is shocked several days later when he sees Agnes’ face on the 10 o’clock news; apparently, she mysteriously disappeared before she even boarded her bus. Duncan is certain that he’ll be a suspect and decides to clear his own name by finding out what happened to Agnes himself. Allen’s page-turner chronicles Duncan’s investigation from start to finish, from his creation of his own online news outlet to get press passes to news conferences to his confrontation with Agnes’ boyfriend, James, about her disappearance. Ultimately, he follows a lead that ends up being far more dangerous than he ever imagined. Allen delivers a well-written mystery that’s equal parts funny and suspenseful. Although the book’s mystery is intriguing, what makes it truly successful is its lead character, Duncan, who’s a relatable, charmingly witty and admirably gutsy narrator. Readers will likely find him the perfect candidate to star in his own mystery series.
A good old-fashioned mystery novel with a lovable leading man at its heart.