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Crescent Blues Book ViewsCarroll & Graf (Hardback), ISBN 0-7867-0968-5
In the summer of 1960, Vice President Richard M. Nixon and his political entourage schedule a stop in the town of Black River Falls, Iowa. Republican judge Esme Ann Whitney, town socialite and friend of Dick Nixon, orders her staff to do everything that must be done to ensure the town presents a proper image to the visiting dignitaries. Unfortunately, the not inconsequential matter of two murders and the proliferation of anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic pamphlets must be taken care of before the luminaries arrive. The job of cleaning up these rather messy inconveniences falls to diminutive detective Sam McCain, part-time lawyer and investigator.

Book: Ed Gorman, save the last dance for meMcCain's involvement in the case intensifies when his client, the snake handling fundamentalist preacher John Maulder, dies a ghastly death as the McCain looks on in horror. Hypocritical preachers, adulterous husbands and wives, an incompetent police chief, a hippie author of semi-pornographic books, gun toting farmers and an incompetent coroner are only a few of the hurdles McCain must leap in order to solve the mysterious murders and set the proper stage for Mr. Nixon's arrival.

Time grows short and the list of suspects very long before McCain discovers the method of the first murder and the motive for the second. But the pieces don't fall into place until an exciting and surprising climax.

In this, the fourth installment of the Sam McCain series, author Ed Gorman presents an interesting and fast paced narrative while effectively creating the feel of the era. Readers old enough to remember such icons of the 1950s and 1960s as Pat Boone, Betty Furness, Lucky Strike cigarettes and the Highway Patrol television series may well wax nostalgic as they turn the pages toward the resolution of the crime.

The book moves smoothly from complication to complication and contains a distinctive protagonist, a town full of possible suspects, and a fairly interesting plot. I consider it an ideal rainy day book. In fact, I read the entire book in one rainy day.

Clinton H. Hunter

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