'The Blue Cheer'
By: Ed Lynskey
(Paperback / 224 Pages / PointBlank / ISBN-10: 0809556677 / $12.95)
Description: PI Frank Johnson, who moved to rural West Virginia in search of peace and quiet, stumbles on his noisiest case yet when a Stinger missile explodes in the air over his property. He thinks it ought to be a simple matter to find out why the missile was in the skies over West Virginia, but when he is beaten up, and then his best friend's wife is murdered, Frank quickly realizes he has caught the tail of a monster.
Verdict: Ed Lynsky's novel, 'The Blue Cheer' is a hard-edged, dark, well-written detective story of the highest calibre. It tells the tale of Frank Johnson (in his second mystery), a private investigator (PI) who is running from his past. Now located in a small West Virginia town (Scarab), all is well until a mid-air explosion occurs literally above his head one night. Johnson quickly discovers that the cause of the fireworks is a Stinger missile, but his self-congratulations are short-lived due to being knocked out soon thereafter.
And when the wife of an old friend ("Old Man" Maddox), confined to a wheelchair, is brutally tortured and murdered, Johnson - along with Maddox and Robert Gaitlin (a friendly defense attorney) - set about delving head first into their investigations. But there is a racist organization named the Blue Cheer that has taken root in the West Virginia hills and appears to have connections even in the most unexpected places. Of course, Johnson’s investigations seem to point to the Blue Cheer as the source of the Stinger launch that exploded over his yard, but he quickly comes to realize that the group has far more in mind than some innocent target practice.
As brutalities, murders and peculiar events further occur - and local police display an interest only in nailing Johnson himself - his conviction grows that he must bring this whole mess to a conclusive head sooner rather than later ... and stay alive in the process!
'The Blue Cheer' is a vivid, fast, dark, well-written detective novel; one that brings home the more traditional urban noir crime fiction for sure, but still manages to add a certain something to it at the same time. I suggest you go back and read the first book in the series - perhaps buy them both and read it before this one! - as catching up with the adventures of Frank Johnson is not time spent wasted by any stretch of Lynsky's vivid imagination.
Reviewed by Jennifer Brunswick