October 2012

Curse of the Jade Lily by David Housewright

The latest Rushmore McKenzie mystery

Once upon a time in Rushmore McKenzie’s life, the Midwest Farmers Insurance Group paid a reward of $3,128,584.50 for catching an embezzler giving Midwest a hard time. On a cold winter’s morning six years later, the man who gave McKenzie the check, Vincent Donatucci, arrives at Mac’s Falcon Heights home with an offer to pay him $125,000.00 more to act as go-between in a matter involving the theft of the Jade Lily. 

An artifact known as the Jade Lily -insured by Midwest for $3.8 million bucks- was stolen from the City of Lakes Art Museum the night before. The ransom demanded by the “artnappers” (as Donatucci calls them) is a third of its insured value. The fee Donatucci offers McKenzie is ten percent of that ransom, but Mac just laughs it off at first. Why risk his life for money when he already is set for life with it? 


Then Donatucci lets McKenzie in on something else: the thieves have specifically requested McKenzie to be the go-between. Astonished, McKenzie nibbles at the bait Donatucci has dangled before him, but Donatucci abruptly feigns indifference to the whole affair knowing all the while he has McKenzie hooked. McKenzie finally agrees to take the job for the offered fee plus expenses.

The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout

Nero Wolfe vs. the FBI

What on earth would compel Rex Stout’s legendary sleuth Nero Wolfe to confer with his assistant Archie Goodwin while the radio in the office is going full blast?   Why is Archie sleeping there instead of up in his room? And why did Wolfe smuggle into his home via boxes supposedly containing plants his usual trio of operatives (Saul panzer, Fred Durkin, and Orrie Cather) as well as two actors named Jarvis and Hewitt?  It is well-known that the portly gourmet and orchid-loving Wolfe is an eccentric sleuth, but even this is pushing things.  Unless, that is, your home is under surveillance by the FBI.

Madman on a Drum by David Housewright

The fifth in the absorbing Rushmore McKenzie series

I really, really like David Housewright’s whodunits focusing on St. Paul cop-turned unlicensed private eye Rushmore McKenzie. The character is a likeable mix of charm, guile and toughness seasoned with a dry wit and keen perception whose first-person narratives of his cases are so addictive Housewright makes me come back for more each time.

In this, the fifth book in a series that began with A Hard Ticket Home, big trouble strikes the family of McKenzie's lifelong friend Bobby Dunston when Bobbys daughter Victoria is kidnapped. And apparently, the kidnapper knows both Bobby and Mac from somewhere in the past. He also knows that Mac is rich after capturing a millionaire embezzler years before, and that McKenzie is the one who has to pay the million dollar ransom the kidnapper demands for Victoria’s return.