Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Good Detective

The Good Detective by John McMahon
Penguin Random House; 3/19/19
hardcover; 320 pages
Detective P. T. Marsh #1

The Good Detective by John McMahon is a very highly recommended procedural and the un-put-downable first book in the P.T. Marsh series. The two P.T. Marsh books are some of the best novels I've read this year.

In Mason Falls, Georgia, Detective P.T. Marsh is struggling, making poor decisions, and drinking too much after his wife and young son died in an accident. It wasn't a good decision to help out an abused stripper named "Crimson" by having a little late night discussion with her boyfriend. The decision seemed even worse when the boyfriend, Virgil Rowe, is found dead the next day and Marsh can't remember if he did it or not. He knows his fingerprints are all over the crime scene. Things get worse when the investigation into Virgil's death sends Marsh and his partner Remy Morgan to a burned-out field where they discover the burned body of a black teenager, Kendrick Webster. His death appears to be raced related. Marsh realizes that he may have killed the number-one suspect in the teen's death. As Marsh and Remy investigate, the trail leads them to a decades old conspiracy.

After reading and loving the second book in the series, The Evil Men Do, I was thrilled to receive a copy of The Good Detective, the first book. I loved it, and, although I would very highly recommend reading both novels, don't follow my example - read them in order. They are both excellent, skillfully written procedurals where the clues are carefully followed. I was riveted to the pages and enjoyed following along as new developments are revealed in the intricate plot. The plot is complex and layered in both novels.

Having already met Marsh through The Evil Men Do, this first book fully develops his character. Readers are privy to Marsh's thoughts and insights. His emotional wounds are fresher in this novel; he is closer to the original pain. His personal demons are closer to the surface here. (Thankfully, I already knew where he would be in the future and didn't have to wait.) I'm going to be anxiously awaiting the next investigation P.T. Marsh undertakes.  (I have to say this reminds me a bit of Greg Iles, whom I also love. It is part Southern fiction and part complicated, nuanced characters struggling with their own personal issues.)

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of John McMahon.

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