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Two and one half moon gifThomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press (Hardcover), ISBN 0-312-24179-8
The Great Randisi, a.k.a. Robert J. Randisi, founder of the Private Eye Writers of America and co-founder of Mystery Scene Magazine, cops to a l-o-n-g list of published novels. At last count, he could boast 300 books to his credit, 270 of them westerns. 

This amazing quantity of writing may explain the lack of factual detail in his procedural mystery, Blood on the Arch, the latest in his Joe Keough mystery series. Certainly anyone that prolific must practice time management. Forget the research; focus on storytelling. Randisi designs a suspenseful, fast-paced, creative police puzzler that forces the reader hold onto his coat tails as he speeds them along the trail of murder and deception. 

Detective Joe Keough of the St. Louis Police Department finds himself looking into the face of a friend when he examines the victim of a brutal murder. Mark Drucker, a stranger turned mentor who gave Keough a fresh start in St. Louis, lies dead -- bludgeoned. Drucker's blood stains the Arch, the Gateway to the West, and Keough vows to find the killer. But a conspiracy of greedy people stand between him and the truth.  

Keough quickly discovers the mystery begins with the victim. How could Drucker's wife -- OK, almost ex-wife -- not know the location of his office or his new address? How could civic and political leaders work closely with Drucker on real estate development deals and not know what he did for a living? Keough and readers stumble over these questions.  

Book: Robert J. Randisi, The Sixth PhaseThe author fumbles with motive and consequences throughout the story. Be warned, some questions never get answered. Some get dropped. The author tries to leave others open-ended, suggesting answers only the victim or murderer could know. The thin and unsatisfactorily explained conspiracy leads to the unveiling of unexpected evil doers whose motives remain unclear.  

Although cause and effect remain elusive, amazingly, Randisi puts together a good read. Regardless of the unanswered questions, lackluster details and missing facts, he tells a suspenseful tale peopled with interesting characters.  

Keough's actions present the many facets of his personality, and his struggle with private issues endears him to readers. Personal relationships between Keough, his girlfriend, his partner, his boss, and the mayor, all add strength to the story. If readers enjoy strong characterization, a well-told tale and don't mind a few glitches, this book holds up. 

Dawn Goldsmith 

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