Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back on Murder – J. Mark Bertrand

© 2010 Bethany House, Grand Rapids

Back on Murder (Roland March Series #1) 
I like to read books that I can get for free if they look interesting to me. Author J. Mark Bertrand has made the first of the Roland March mysteries available for free in the e-Book format for a limited time (it was still listed as “free” as of this writing at both Amazon and Barnes &Noble) to do just what I like—introduce new readers to his writing. So, here I am just waiting to have the opportunity to read the next installments in the Roland March series.

March is a cop who’s gotten past his prime. He has been coasting for several years after having a stellar performance back in the mid-2000 decade. Now, instead of an up-and-comer, he finds himself being assigned to suicide cop investigations, or worse shuffled around from team to team on career-killing cases.

In some fluke, he finds himself trying to find a missing Jane Doe (or more likely her body) which leads him to become involved in a high-profile missing persons case. All the while struggling with a 9/11 related personal tragedy that keeps coming home to roost.

I found the writing genuine, the characters engaging, and the police procedures utterly believable. Occasionally the main character would jump around in his telling of the story, but that is easily overlooked because the story is so compelling.

The one big distraction in this Houston-based story (it’s very accurate, even down to the multiple mentions of local independent mystery bookseller Murder By The Book), is the overuse and mis-use of a Texas colloquial term. I encountered this error repeatedly when I was grading sophomores’ papers in east Texas. The term which was misused almost to distraction was a phrase which indicates out of the blue happenstance, and should be rendered, “all of a sudden.” However, as with my high school students, Mr. Bertrand insisted on writing “all the sudden.” Perhaps in some newer editions of the book or in later March stories, we’ll see this infraction either removed or used less often (rant over).

Other than that distraction, I found the book to be a readable feast. Grab a copy and enjoy—get hooked on Roland March. (4 out of 5 reading glasses)

—Benjamin Potter, August 9, 2013

[I got this eBook for FREE from Book Bub!]

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