Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: A Case of Hometown Blues by W. S. Gager (Mitch Malone #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Mitch; interesting plot
Cons: Rest of the cast could use some development
The Bottom Line
Strong main character
Propels us through mystery
Full of emotion

You Shouldn't Go Home Again

You might think that with all the hobbyists that are main characters in the mystery series I read that they are the only stars of mystery series, but there are lots of old standbys.  One of those is the investigative reporter.  And that's what Mitch Malone is.  A Case of Hometown Blues is the third book to feature him, and also the most personal.

After his parents died, Mitch swore he'd never return to his small home town.  But when he is told to teach a class on investigative journalism at the local newspaper, he has no choice.

To make matters worse, his arrival coincides with his high school reunion, which means he must face not only the class bully (his cousin), but his crush on the homecoming queen.  She seems to want to tell Mitch something, but can't quite get it out.  The next morning, she's dead and Mitch is the only suspect the police are considering.  Can he clear his own name when so many demons of his past are distracting him?

This is the third book in the series, but it's only the second one I've read.  In both of these books, I've felt that Mitch was a strong main character, but that's enhanced here since Mitch is pretty much the focus of the story.  We really get to know him as we watch him try to make sense of this current murder and how it relates to his tragic past.  This isn't quite the normal light fare I enjoy, but I enjoyed the darker tone the story took at times.

Unfortunately, the rest of the cast seems to be a bit underdeveloped.  There's one character that stands out, but the rest don't get enough page time to become fully real.  They certainly work for the story, and I had no trouble keeping them all straight.

The story started quickly and moved forward at a steady pace.  A couple of times, I felt it snagged a little, but it got moving forward quickly again.  The climax brings everything to a logical conclusion, which is pretty amazing with everything that happens in the story.

Sense of place isn't something I always comment on, but I felt it was very strong here.  I was able to get lost in the small town and could feel and smell the old fashioned printer working in the newspaper office.  The writing was very adept at creating these scenes without spending so much time on them that the story truly lagged.

At some point, I'm going to have to go back and read the first book in the series, although I feel like I already have a feel for what happens in it from references in this book.  The second book in the series remains unspoiled, however.

A Case of Hometown Blues was enjoyable, and I am certainly looking forward to reading more about Mitch.

NOTE: I was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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