Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cast Your Vote For 'Runoff'

From the very first paragraph of Mark Coggin's new novel, I was hooked. After all, it's not every day that you see a piece of construction equipment crash into the front of a bank at 2 AM. The latest in a series of mystery noir novels featuring Private Eye August Riordan starts off literally with a bang, and it's more than enough to keep the reader interested in the story.

The main problem PI Riordan tackles in RUNOFF, a slim but action packed story, is the theft of a local election through some electronic shennanigans. This is more than a little ironic, given that this technophobe PI has only recently discovered cell phones, and spends more time actually pounding the pavement questioning witnesses than he does sitting in front of a computer screen (imagine that). And the witnesses keep winding up dead, sometimes before August gets a chance to question them, and sometimes after he points his Glock 9 mm at them. But to quote Arnold the Governator, "They were all bad". Even Mrs. Lee, the Dragon Lady of Chinatown, has some dubious qualities about her, and she's the client!

Riordan entertains and solves the case with an interesting cast of supporting characters, some of whom we've seen in earlier novels, such as Chris Duckworth, a friend of August and a computer whiz whose talents prove indispensable in helping to solve the case. Riordan even gets some crucial help from an unlikely source in the criminal underworld, but I won't spoil the surprise by giving too much away.

The book can stand on it's own even if you've never read anything by Mark Coggins, but if you want to start with his first August Riordan novel, look up "The Immortal Game". Otherwise, run to the nearest bookstore or click on your mouse and buy a copy of "RUNOFF". It's more fun than a real election and makes a hell of a lot more sense. This story of money, crime and politics is even more relevant today than it was when first published in 2007.

But remember these words the next time you find yourself battling a John Deere...Don't bring rocks to a backhoe fight.

P.S. Check out the great map showing all the crime scenes in the novel.