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Sportsman's Bet

de Judy Nichols

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Take a butcher’s at the Sportsman’s bet.
It makes little sense doesn’t it? It’s Cockney Rhyming slang – said to have developed in the mid-1800’s in the East End of London, and it’s not certainly known if it was a game, an accident or intentional dialect meant to confuse, distract or deceive outsiders. What I wasn’t aware of was the continual growth of the slang; its references have modernized along with society. One of the best examples of rhyming slang in action is in the Austin Powers movie Goldmember – you can youtube the relevant clip.

The slang provides a nice side-note to the presence of the main character, private investigator and narrator and storyteller Ian Dodge. Ian is a former police officer turned private investigator, twice divorced, with 3 children, a dog and a house he rents while he lives in a trailer in the yard. Ian presents with a wry sense of humor, slightly fastidious in his personal habits and an unerring habit of ‘putting on the accent’ when being charmingly polite to the women he encounters.

As an unwitting and not exactly willing participant in the discovery of a murder victim in the town’s decrepit bomb shelter, Ian is hired by the defense lawyer to find “anyone that could have done the crime” aside from the current suspect.

I admit – I am a fan of mysteries, and have read my share of them. In most of the mysteries I do read, I have not found more than a handful where I was unable to figure out “who did it”. I was killer at Clue as a kid. This mystery had me stumped. There were far too many possible options, and the majority of the ‘evidence’ that pointed to one person or another was over forty years old. Add to that a relatively small and insular area, where many people are related through blood or marriage, or even both – and you have a real ‘feel’ for the area in which the story takes place.

The writing is incredibly tight and smooth, each chapter is relatively short and nearly all are dedicated to one little piece of the mystery to be solved. All of the characters that are introduced are done with just enough detail to be fitting to their importance to the entire plot. Recurrent characters (as I do believe this is going to be a series of mysteries) are given enough detail to want to know more; from quirks to relevance in the town or area – they all have some endearing quality that fits in both the story and the area. And once I discovered the “who” in the “whodunit” all of the hints to the murderer came clear. That, to me, is the true mastery of a mystery author – enough dissembling and partial reveals of evidence mixed with other superfluous bits to sift through. Done with a flair for smooth and cohesive writing, careful plot construction and a keen sense of humor in the main character make this a book easy to recommend.

Like mysteries? What about stories based in the south? Have a “thing” for a brit? Just want a new read with an author you aren’t familiar with? This is the book.

I was contacted by the author and asked if I would be interested in reviewing this novel. I received a copy of this book for purpose of honest review, and I was not compensated for this review. All conclusions are honestly and freely given, and entirely my responsibility **
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  IamIndeed | Mar 29, 2013 |
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