Michael Haskins

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hawk Channel Chase by Tom Corcoran - an Alex Rutledge Mystery

Tom Corcoran’s sixth Alex Rutledge Mystery, “Hawk Channel Chase,” (Ketch and Yawl Press) will not disappoint his fans. It has been a few years since Corcoran’s “Air Dance Iguana,” and it was good to find everyone on Dredgers Lane had survived.

In fact, reading “Hawk Channel Chase” is like running into old friends and finding they hadn’t really changed much and that is a good thing.

Alex Rutledge can stand still and find himself embroiled in turmoil and the new book takes the reader on a trip up and down the Keys with Rutledge as he tries to find out exactly what he’s gotten himself into.

Firsts there are rumors, as only Key West can have, that border on conspiracies as federal agents refuse to deal with Monroe County Sheriffs and Key West cops, leaving everyone in the dark about something that happened a few miles behind Baby’s Coffee on Bay Point. Some how it seems connected to a real estate investor who is trying to buy up Dredgers Lane, even as he asks Rutledge for helping finding his missing, college-aged daughter.

Capt. Sam Wheeler, Rutledge’s best friend, is mixed up with illegal sails to Cuba, leaving Rutledge pondering Sam’s fate as black-bag federal agents start coming around with questions and threats.

Wheeler is another old friend to Corcoran’s fans, and if he wasn’t getting Rutledge in trouble, it would be the other way around. Of course, the fly in the ointment is that Wheeler’s longtime partner, reporter Marnie Dunwoody, thinks Wheeler has a girlfriend and asks Rutledge about it, pointblank.

Bodies begin to pile up at a proximity to Dredgers Lane that cause the local cops to begin to consider Rutledge a person of interest.

What would Rutledge’s life be like if Corcoran couldn’t throw some love-life pandemonium in and he has done this as Rutledge’s current squeeze, Sheriff Detective Bobbi Lewis adds some zingers of her own into the mess, blaming her job and the feds, leaving Rutledge with some long, lonely nights.

“Hawk Channel Chase” reads like a ride-along with Rutledge on his old Triumph 650 Bonneville motorcycle, as he dangerously takes on US1, way past the speed limit, and maneuvers the road’s twists and turns like a race driver.

It is a ride that leaves the reader breathless on some turns, smiling at others, and always in a hurry to get to the end. And it takes getting to the last few chapters before seemingly unrelated instances fall into place and unites Rutledge, Sam, Marnie, and Chicken Neck, a strange foursome even for Key West, to reach the story’s unusual climax. Corcoran’s novels challenge his readers, and this one is one of his best mind twisters.

Corcoran has weaved the background of “Hawk Channel Chase” out of today’s headlines, locally and nationally, involving Key West land-grabbing deals at prices people can’t turn down, to the debacle in Iraq, politics in Cuba, and drug smugglers; all the while taking readers on a magical tour of Key West with a peek at the Old Key West he knew from his early days as a bartender at the Pier House’s Chart Room and his consorting with little known singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett.

“Hawk Channel Chase,” is about a Key West we have all grown to love, especially the parts that have been lost to us, and Corcoran’s characters are old friends and like old friends, you deal with their quirkiness, the good and the bad, because they are always surprising you, but never disappointing to be around. Corcoran brings Key West to life, even for those of us that live here.

If you can put “Hawk Channel Chase” down, it’s for one of two reasons – you need to go to the bathroom or you’ve turned the last page.

www.tomcorcoran.net, for more information.

To see more photos of Tom, go to my website's photo pages:


Monday, August 24, 2009

Shamus Award nominees

Congratulations to the nominees for this year's Shamus Awards, given annually by the Private Eye Writers of America. The awards will be given at a banquet on Friday, October 19, during Bouchercon in Indianapolis.

Best Hardcover:
Salvation Boulevard by Larry Beinhart (Nation Books)
Empty Ever After by Reed Farrel Coleman (Bleak House Books)
The Blue Door by David Fulmer (Harcourt)
The Price of Blood by Declan Hughes (Wm. Morrow)
The Ancient Rain by Domenic Stansberry (St. Martin's Minotaur)

Best First PI Novel:
Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer (Doubleday)
Swann's Last Song by Charles Salzberg (Five Star)
The Eye of Jade by Diane Wei Liang (Simon & Schuster)
In the Heat by Ian Vasquez (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson (St Martin's Minotaur)

Best Paperback Original:
Snow Blind by Lori Armstrong (Medallion)
Shot Girl by Karen Olson (Obsidian)
The Stolen by Jason Pinter (MIRA)
The Black Hand by Will Thomas (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster)
The Evil That Men Do by Dave White (Crown/Three Rivers Press)

Best Short Story:
"Family Values" by Mitch Alderman (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, June 2008)
"Last Island South" by John C. Boland (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Sep/Oct 2008)
"The Blonde Tigress" by Max Allan Collins (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June 2008)
"Discovery" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Nov 2008)
"Panic on Portage Path" by Dick Stodghill (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Jan/Feb 2008)
Have you read any of these books or short stories?

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