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by John Dufresne
WW Norton, July 2013
336 pages
ISBN: 0393070530

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

On Christmas Eve, therapist and forensic consultant Wylie "Coyote" Melville is asked by police to look at a crime scene in a Florida suburb. The entire Halliday family dad, mom and three children have been slain. Police immediately blame the father, Chafin, but Wylie is not so sure. His ability to read crime scenes tells him something is amiss.

As much as this is a detective story surrounding the Halliday family crime, it's also a look into Wylie's life, a screwball comedy without the comedy most times. Wylie's regular patients are seriously unhinged, a crooked cop is out to get him, his former ex-girlfriend is setting him up with blind dates who turn out to be bimbos, his father has Alzheimer's, and a homeless man, Red, has moved into his yard, setting up camp with a sleeping bag and hibachi.

Together with his friend Bay Lettique, a sleight-of-hand artist who pretends to be a clueless tourist in order to clean up at the poker tables, Wylie continues to investigate the case, even when the cops have closed the book on it. It is, at times, hard to follow the plot, which bounces around and involves dirty politicians, dirtier cops and the Russian mob. But after a bit, the reader will learn to settle back and just enjoy the ride.

Like other crime fiction writers from Florida - Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiassen, and James W. Hall - the story is steeped in dark humor, but also offers a big dollop of wit. You won't have any regrets after spending time in Dufresne's wacky world.

Lourdes Venard is a newspaper editor in Long Island, N.Y.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, November 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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