Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
"Poor guy was tortured before he was stabbed. Had a couple of fingernails ripped off, as well."
on 21 August 2012
Three months previous to "Dead In Red", New York City based unemployed insurance investigator Jeff Resnick is on his way home from hanging with his buddies when he is viciously mugged and beaten, where he suffers a concussion, and both a broken head and a broken arm. His estranged half-brother, the wealthy Doctor Richard Alpert and his live in significant African-American other, Brenda, take him back to their home in Buffalo to recuperate. While there Jeff's innate, but unpredictable, psi abilities start to emerge. With this second novel both are recuperating, Jeff from his mugging, and Richard from being shot in the first book.
Feeling useless and needing to do something, Jeff has found himself hanging out the local sports bar "The Whole Nine Yards". Then one day one of the bartenders, Walt Kaplan is murdered, and Jeff is offered two jobs by the bar's owner, and Walt's cousin, Tom. The first job is to look into, and investigate Walt's death, and the other is to fill the bartending job that has now been left empty.
Meanwhile, Jeff is having flashbacks and dreams of his mugging and that of a red stiletto-healed shoe.
Deciding to take both jobs, the first reluctantly, the second not so much, he and his brother, who has become his Watson, begin to look into Walt's death. After arriving at the crime scene Jeff realizes that Walt wasn't murdered where his body was found, but was dumped at the Old Red Mill and that the mill houses a coffee shop by Cyn(thia) Lennox, nee Taggert, who is an old schoolmate of Richard's and who is actively hostile to Jeff.
While he is investigating Walt's death, Jeff's personal life is still in shambles. He resents the life his brother has led, irrational as he realizes his resentment is, so to release steam he still takes long walks where he still ends up at Sophie Leven's bakery; Sophie, a survivor of Buchenwald, who is also mildly psychic, and has become a form of mentor to Jeff.
And Jeff still wants to reignite his relationship with the red-haired upwardly mobile Maggie Brennan even if his last date with her was a mess, while she has conversely become Brenda's best friend.
Then the unexpected happens, Craig Buchanan, a homeless and unsympathetic schizophrenic, is arrested for Walt's murder, with the bloody murder weapon still in his possession. Even though the murder seems wrapped up, Jeff doesn't believe that Craig is the murderer, and feels that Richard's old schoolfriend Cynthia is somehow involved, although he can't tell his brother that part. Yet.
As the case now seems over Richard thinks that Jeff should just ignore his feelings and get on with his life, even though Brenda knows that Jeff can't, and supports his continuing investigation, as does the mysterious Sophie. And then Jeff and Richard find a key to Walt's storage unit, and what they find there will change the direction of the whole investigation.
Once again Bartlett does a crackerjack job of developing both Jeff and Richard and their relationship as brothers, as Jeff continues to struggle with his illogical resentment and issues with his brother. Situations that Richard really had nothing to do with, all while Jeff tries to keep from hurting Richard, because from the very beginning it becomes obvious that his old schoolmate is seriously involved in Walt's murder, and its unconventional circumstances. Bartlett also does a good job of detailing Jeff's struggle with his unpredictable feelings as they lead him to circumstances and conclusions that he'd rather not go to, or come to, as those involved would rather Walt and his unconventional sexual tastes just go away. All while struggling to work out his rocky relationship with Maggie. Once again, I think that the women of this series, Brenda and Maggie, both of whom are keystones in this series, are given short thrift in the character development department.
While I would recommend that you read the first book in this series, it's not really necessary as Bartlett does a good job in filling in the back story, still this book will be all the better for having read the first book in the series.
For this site I have also reviewed the following Jeff Resnick books:
Jeff Resnick #1: Murder on the Mind (Five Star Mystery).
Jeff Resnick #2: Dead in Red: A Jeff Resnick Mystery (Five Star First Edition Mystery).
Jeff Resnick #3: Cheated By Death (The Jeff Resnick Mysteries).
Jeff Resnick #4: Bound By Suggestion: The Jeff Resnick Mysteries: 4.
Jeff Resnick's first published case "Cold Case" can be found in this anthology: Mystery in Mind, and as a Kindle here Cold Case (A Jeff Resnick Mystery), although it also makes up the first chapter of "Bound By Suggestion", and he is also in the Kindle short stories Bah! Humbug (The Jeff Resnick Mysteries) and When The Spirit Moves You (The Jeff Resnick Mysteries).