The 1970s come back to life—and not in a nice way—in this year’s winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Contest.
Tim Ryder’s days as a student radical ended abruptly when he joined several friends in a bank robbery intended to provide funding for a fringe Presidential candidate. Predictably, the robbery went bad, leaving two people dead and sending Tim and Glenn Turret, the ringleader, to prison. Now Tim’s put all that behind him, or so he thinks. He makes a respectable living as a North Palm Springs woodworker, and his wife Deirdre, a former addict who’s been clean for years, works as a substance abuse counselor. One hot Sunday morning Tim takes his coffee out to his front yard and finds a corpse on his lawn. The young man has clearly been shot in the head, but nothing else about his death is clear—not the reason he came to the quiet desert community, not his connection to Tim, not even his name. When he finds a telltale scrap of evidence in the street, Tim foolishly decides to pursue it himself instead of turning it over to overbearing Inspector Branson, whose sole contribution to the case has been to announce that Turret’s just been released from prison. Soon Tim’s new life has been shattered as completely as his old.
A beautifully understated portrait of a hero who’s a lot better at grieving than detecting.