Mystery Books for Sale

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by David Housewright
Minotaur Books, June 2014
294 pages
ISBN: 1250009618

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In this 11th Mac McKenzie book, "that fucking McKenzie" is prevailed upon by the granddaughter of his rich nemesis, Walter Muehlenhaus, to find her missing Spanish boyfriend. Riley Muehlenhaus, the Muehlenhaus Girl, has been more than dating Juan Carlos Navarre, when he suddenly disappears. As McKenzie begins the search among the über-wealthy Minnesotans whose company Riley and Juan Carlos keep, he runs afoul of the reincarnation of a Hispanic Mafia group that seems just as intent to locate Juan Carlos. Juan Carlos may not be all that he claims to be, or even who he claims to be. An amusing scene has the receptionist at the exclusive lakefront club to which all the rich characters in THE DEVIL MAY CARE belong telling McKenzie that she doesn't believe Juan Carlos is the rich man he says he is because he seems too intent on impressing her, the hired help.

Throughout the book, McKenzie works to protect Riley while he searches for Juan Carlos. Murder and rape of wealthy Minnesotans, as well as arson, define the tactics of a villain who is connected to Juan Carlos, and these events serve as the background to McKenzie's investigation. And who is this McKenzie? Wealthy in his own right, he is an ex-police detective who does not need the work but seems to be drawn into continuing his detective work for his own amusement and entertainment. Although this book is well along in the series, he still seems somewhat uncomfortable with his own wealth, and just like Juan Carlos, sometimes tries too hard to convince others of his wealth. He drives a $65,000 car, a fact he reminds us of multiple times throughout the book. He is especially aware of class and wealth distinctions within Riley Muehlenhaus' world. That sensitivity to the trappings of wealth, while annoying at times, is exactly what allows McKenzie to navigate the world that Juan Carlos seems to have created out of whole cloth.

Housewright renders this world of the Muehlenhaus family, Juan Carlos, McKenzie, and others very well indeed. The descriptions created an image in my mind, and I almost feel as though I've visited the locales described. Housewright visually maps out the St. Paul/Minneapolis area, and provides background perspective on why the cities are called the "Twin Cities," as well as why they perhaps should not be. When he describes the home Juan Carlos lives in, or the roads McKenzie is following, or the scene of a crime, he creates a full visual image in the reader's mind. His characterization is a little less successful than his description of place.

Although the events that take place in THE DEVIL MAY CARE are quite violent, Housewright has a light touch and imbues McKenzie with a sense of humor. For those who like their crime novels gritty, this is not a book that will satisfy. For those who enjoy a rather quirky main character but don't quite want to go as far in avoiding direct discussion of violence as to read a cozy, this book will hit the mark. It's the first I've read in the series, so I can't say if the entire series has the same tone. I did enjoy the balance between lightheartedness and seriousness that Housewright managed in this book, however, and I'm interested enough to try another in the series to see if it holds steady.

§ Sharon Mensing is the Head of School of Emerald Mountain School, an independent school in the mountains of Colorado, where she lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, June 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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