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AUGUST SNOW by Stephen Mack  Jones


by Stephen Mack Jones

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-61695-718-6
Publisher: Soho Crime

An ex-cop comes home to Detroit and finds himself embroiled in the investigation of a local business magnate's death.

August Snow, whose name gives this volume its title, had been framed and drummed out of the force after uncovering corruption at the highest levels of the city. A successful suit for wrongful termination makes him a wealthy man, and he returns to his decaying neighborhood, Detroit's Mexicantown, where he grew up with his Mexican mother and African-American father. As a cop, August had uncovered embezzlement at the bank presided over by the much-despised businesswoman Eleanor Paget. When she dies, an apparent suicide, a day after asking him to work for her, his investigation into her death sets him up to tangle with all manner of local thugs and, possibly, international crooks who turn banks into their own private money-laundering operations. Let's get the flaws out of the way. The author, a poet, playwright, and first-time novelist, tends to overdo both the noir fatalism and the tough-guy stuff (especially when it comes to detailing Snow's arsenal). An important supporting character is made to pay for a past sin in a way that feels very judgmental. There's a shade too much cyberage paranoia. And the book climaxes with two—count 'em—sieges when one would do. But it's easy to overlook those flaws considering what this book gets right: a hugely likable hero who uses his wealth to bring his neighborhood back to life; a feel for the vitality and pride in run-down urban neighborhoods as good as George Pelecanos on Washington, D.C.; appealing supporting characters who give life to the book's theme of the solace to be found in communities. It adds up to a very pleasurable read.

This mostly terrific debut holds out the promise that we are at the beginning of an excellent new series.