Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dead Red - Tim O'Mara

My review of Tim O'Mara's Dead Red first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I am posting it today with their permission. Hope you enjoy.

First line: "I never heard the shot that killed Ricky Torres."

The baseball term "sitting dead red" (a batter waiting for a specific fastball from a pitcher) takes a military connotation in Tim O'Mara's third Raymond Donne mystery when Ricky Torres is murdered. The Iraq War vet and friend from Donne's days on the police force summons Ray in the middle of the night. Torres, sitting in a taxicab next to ex-cop-turned-public-schoolteacher Donne is only able to say, "I made a mistake," before a shooter lying in wait--sitting dead red--murders him.

Donne barely escapes with his life and is determined to find out who took his friend's, despite orders from the police chief to stay out of the investigation. Torres had been working part-time for another ex-cop, Jack Knight. Now a PI, Knight is currently looking into the disappearance of a public relations guru's teenage daughter. As Donne and Knight do their digging, each question begets another. Was the murder tied to this case? Did Torres make a mistake?

Well-timed twists and red herrings keep the pace of the layered Dead Red swift. The less-than-likeable Knight plays a strong foil to the kind, empathetic protagonist. And quietly, beneath the boisterous mystery plot, O'Mara studies the complexity and strength of a police family as it deals with the death of one of its own.

Mystery readers unfamiliar with O'Mara won't have trouble starting with Dead Red, but they'll likely find themselves enamored with Raymond Donne's world and heading back for the previous titles in the series (Sacrifice Fly and Crooked Numbers).

Dead Red is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9781250058638) from Minotaur Books.

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