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by Stephen Mack Jones
Soho Crime, January 2019
312 pages
ISBN: 1616959592

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Detroit's Mexicantown defender is a superhero with nothing missing but the cape. In Stephen Mack Jones' second in the series, LIVES LAID AWAY, ex-cop and recently wealthy August Snow has won a twelve-million-dollar wrongful dismissal case against the Detroit Police Department. Snow is half Black (his father was a cop) and half Mexican and he takes responsibility for most of the downtrodden in his hometown, as Detroit starts to struggle out of the doldrums it now finds itself in, courtesy of Big Money's abandonment.

Snow takes seriously his protective feelings for his neighborhood. In fact he becomes a vigilante when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) takes a cue from the winner of the 2016 election and begins to raid Mexicantown looking for undocumented refugees. When an unidentified Hispanic young woman is found dead in the Detroit River, Snow goes ballistic.

He faces danger head-on and takes no prisoners. He shoots first without considering the consequences, whether the antagonist is a biker, an ex-con or a beautiful or classy woman. As he slowly puts together what is going on, the bodies mount up.

Snow is assisted by a number of friends and assets. His sidekick is his godfather Tomas, but he also has on his side Lady B of the Soul Hole Donut shop and Trent T.R. Ogilvy, a Brit with a man bun, hacker Lucy Three Rivers from the Sault, and finally, FBI Special Agent Megan O'Donnell. All are crack shots and all get their chances at wounding, maiming or outright killing some of the bad guys who seem to swarm in poor old downtrodden Detroit.

LIVES LAID AWAY is a gem of a smart talking novel, with "an action-hero with the heart of a mensch," according to the Wall Street Journal. And the action is unending. Just when you think August Snow has calmed things down with a gunshot or a flying karate move, another villain pops up, putting his life, or the lives of his buddies, at risk.

The reader falls in love with Snow's gang, oddballs all, but fighting the good fight, this time in the midst of the immigration crisis in America. This is so up to date with today's news that we can hardly catch our breath as another illegal alien makes it across the Ambassador Bridge to a safe haven in Windsor, Canada.

Eventually August Snow does crack the case, but nothing is ever finished in Detroit, it seems. The author hints at a few undiscovered details that will certainly demand our hero's attention in the promised third in the August Snow series. I can't wait!

Susan Hoover is a playwright, independent producer and retired college English teacher. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Reviewed by Susan Hoover, December 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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