|Jamie Katz: A Summer for Dying|
(Paperback), ISBN 0061097128
First, Dan doesn't exactly like the fact that Jenny seems to be overly friendly with Jerome. Second, Dan doesn't like Daryl, who keeps trying to emulate the worst traits of Dennis Rodman. Then Dan finds out about the endangered blue-spotted turtles that built their home in a small pond on the prospective camp property. But when the millions of dollars Jerome and Daryl plan to spend on a rich real estate venture fail to convince the town's residents to consider the permit, Kardon smells a rat.
Unfortunately, that rat gets smellier after Jerome and Daryl's original attorney makes an unexpected appearance on the morning news as a murder victim. Threats and bad luck plague Jerome and Daryl, and Kardon himself gets tossed around. But nothing can shake the cousins' determination to see the project through. Nothing, that is, until Jerome also turns up murdered and Daryl becomes the number one suspect. Now Dan must discover the real killer before they all become the killer's victims.
Jamie Katz's first novel, Dead Low Tide, introduced Dan Kardon and Jenny Crane to the reading public. A tight, well-written mystery, Dead Low Tide promised great things for the future of this series. Although A Summer for Dying entertained me and interested me in the characters, I often found my attention wandering throughout the middle of the novel.
Main character Jenny Crane spends too much time "off the set" tending to her parents instead of staying a part of the action. Even though this adds to her character's depth and believability, I wanted to see her more involved in the story. Kardon also seems to spend a lot of time getting beat up on behalf of his clients. In a typical Marlowe-style P.I. novel this might not jar the reader too much, but in this semi-gritty tale the physical beatings border on the cliché.
Despite this, Katz's characterizations nearly sing with clarity. Primary characters seem to leap off the page in their precision and depth. When Jerome Mann takes the stage in the opening -- harmonica cradled in his large hands, playing along to a Creedence Clearwater Revival tune -- you can almost smell the cigarette smoke as you turn to order another round from the bartender. Katz paints vivid pictures of his characters, allowing a reader to gradually learn (as does Katz's protagonist) the details of their stories.
Overall, A Summer for Dying rates a "should read" for fans of mainstream mystery and of Jamie Katz. Katz creates a well-planned plot that leads to a proper conclusion with sympathetic characters that remain in your mind long after you finish the book.
Maria Y. Lima
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