A novel of boats, bygones,
and bad behavior
T. A. Clark
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016, PB, 322 pp, $11.95 (Amazon)
This novel is the definition of fun. If you like Carl Hiaasen, you'll probably like T.A. Clark. It is a fast read with two mysteries and a cast of great, at times over the top characters.
We begin with a 1988 charter boat mysterious massacre, a cold case which our protagonist Det. Adria Hill is obsessed. We quickly move to present day, Adria is a vice cop for the Fort Lauderdale police, constantly working in prostitute stings and hoping to move to homicide. She gets her wish during one of these stings when she is hit on by a very stupid Broward Sheriff's Office employee, Boyd Sanders. In order to keep the peace between the two departments she is transferred to criminal investigations, and Boyd is suspended. In spite of her supervisor Anson Tripp's dislike, Adria ends up on the case of an Arson/Murder.
At 170 feet and four decks tall the Zeinab is the pride of the boat show. It was built at the local boat yard "White Yachts". While the party is swinging ex-employee and welder Stanley Joseph sneaks aboard into the engine room. He switches off the fire suppressants. He has a tape measure, a utility knife and a plasma cutter. He is almost finished what he had come to do when he is discovered by William "Bull" Buchner. Bull is enraged and kills Stanley. Bull is one of those over the top characters. After the murder Bull says "Now I have a mess to clean up." He pours diesel fuel over the body, lights it on fire and the Zeinab goes up in flames.
Adria Hill is on the case. While she is dealing with this, Boyd gets kicked out of his house and starts living in his storage locker and decides to stalk Hill as she is the reason for all his woes. This all sounds menacing but Boyd is so inept it really is funny. In fact this whole novel is full of humor.
Adria is the perfect straight "man". Her character is tough to the point of abrasiveness. Her co-workers dislike her which is pointed out in one scene where she is assigned by dispatch a pink hummer stretch limo to drive. She is a loner, but it's not all self- induced, her mom is ill and lives with her. Her dad has disappeared. As a rookie homicide detective she is assigned a partner but her boss tells him to ignore her and hopes she will fail.
Everything is pointing to Stanley Joseph as the arsonist since it's his body on the scene. However Adria isn't convinced. Despite all that is against her she continues investigating and with the help of a French insurance investigator they travel toward the truth.
I couldn't put this book down. I was so excited to wake up in the morning and continue Adria's adventure over my morning coffee. The evil characters like Bull, and his boss were entertaining. The budding romance between bristly Adria and the French detective, Luc, was fun to watch. The bumbling Boyd and his attempts to menace were funny. The two mysteries were intriguing and even when you thought you knew what was going to happen there would be another twist. I am going to go back and check out T.A. Clark's other book Bean Counter. If it is half as entertaining as this I will be a very happy reader.