Title: Missing Persons- a Buddy Steel Mystery by Michael Brandman
Genre: Currently # 9721 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank in Books, Mystery, Thriller Suspense, Mystery, Police Procedurals
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: To be released September 5, 2017
Source: Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley
Title and Cover: Missing Persons – Beautiful cover – conveys book location
Missing Persons is the first in the Buddy Steel Mystery series by Michael Brandman.
Steel is an independent bachelor; aggressive, smart, and has been working homicide at the LAPD, on track for advancement and content with his life. His father, a sheriff in Freedom (a small upscale coastal community north of Los Angeles) discovers his health is going south and asks his son to come home prepared to step into his shoes. Buddy grudgingly agrees, after argument with himself, not happy to return under his father’s counsel. Unfortunately, all hell breaks loose shortly after he returns when he lands in the middle of a missing persons case. She is the wife of a world-renowned television minister. Of course, nothing is simple–that’s the rule–and the investigation leads to con artists, violent gangs, drugs, and murder.
I had a little problem identifying with the protagonist. While he is an independent cuss, he can also be grating, cryptic, and rude. He’s a big boy and can push his 6’3″ frame around. (I’ve learned that unless it’s a woman, all male protagonists are over 6′.) Whether the persona is one he acquired while at LAPD or not, he’s brought that same attitude, often offensive, to small town Freedom. While there, he is reacquainted with the people he grew up with, the town, as well as the adults who watched him grow into adulthood and are familiar with the father-son dynamic.
His father has taken on a deputy, Buddy’s peer, and groomed him to the office, so I’m not sure exactly why his father would not leave the office to his protégé rather than having Buddy step in as sheriff, except that he has an ulterior motive for his son. Buddy has been brought in, not yet elected, but he likes to correct everyone with the title “Sheriff.” There may be a reason to wonder whether he’s any law enforcement officer as he only wears civvies, but does drive a police cruiser.
Buddy drives back to LA to speak to an estranged female member of the missing person’s family and slobbers all over himself with the hots for her almost immediately; apparently she feels the same. So much for the romantic interest.
I would consider this a cozy mystery more than a police procedural. As he gets deeper into the investigation, everything gets thrown into the pot; Ponzi schemes, drugs, cartels, and murder. Yah, I told you–nothing is simple–that’s the rule.
The missing person’s family become the antagonists, characters are fleshed out enough to be obnoxious. I did appreciate the dialogue style, the author assuming you know who is speaking at any given point, foregoing the “he said/she said.” And the description of the fictional, expensive Pacific coastal town sounded lovely and very inviting. There is some language. The plot moves along from the beginning; doesn’t generally lag.
I received this novel from Mr. Brandman, Poisoned Pen Press, and NetGalley and greatly appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Recommend for a fast read of a cozy mystery.
Rosepoint Publishing: 3.5 of Five Stars
The Author: Known for Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Monte Wash, and Jessie Stone: Stone Cold, Michael Brandman is a best selling writer and award-winning producer. Of the forty motion pictures he has produced, Brandman collaborated with Robert B. Parker on more than a dozen of them. Brandman and Parker wrote the screenplay for Tom Selleck’s TNT movie Monte Walsh. Their collaboration continued with the Jesse Stone TV movies. Married to actress Joanna Miles, he is the father of two sons and lives in Los Angeles with his wife. ©2017 Virginia Williams