In this second book in the Long Harbor mystery series, Minder (The Long Harbor Testament, 2017) looks at various characters who are all lured by the promise of easy money.
This sequel returns to Dirty Sam’s, a casino located on the southern New Jersey coast that’s the social hub of the nearby town of Long Harbor. All the gambling there brings in revenue for local governments, and it draws in people from all walks of life. In this volume, they include a “mountain of a man,” a disgraced priest, and a local police detective. Someone guns down a mob thug in the casino’s parking lot, and later, someone tries to shoot the aforementioned man-mountain. These developments attract the interest of the Long Harbor police. Dirty Sam’s also regularly ships out hundreds of thousands of dollars aboard an armored truck—an attractive target for the desperate and the greedy, including two of the casino’s patrons and two of its managers, who are planning an armed truck heist. The robbery is successful, but all involved soon learn that there’s no honor among thieves. Lurking in the background is a former assassin-turned-florist known as “the Red Dahlia.” New Jerseyan Minder delivers a fun romp, merging elements of a murder mystery and a heist novel into a coherent whole. The narrative moves at a fast clip, but it’s Minder’s descriptions of characters and their vices that make this mystery sing. For instance, police chief Mark Porfino can’t give up fast food, regardless of what his wife and doctor say; Detective Ted Hanson has a soft spot for gambling—and for a stripper named Rhonda Gillmore; and Jim Cooper is a priest-turned-professor who spends more time at Dirty Sam’s than in his own classroom. And those are just the good guys—but Minder effectively illustrates that people’s foibles don’t have to define them, giving the novel additional dimension.
An enjoyable crime novel that will make readers hope for future volumes of the series.