Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Review: 'The Undertaker' by William F. Brown


Florida author William F. Brown has penned eight suspense novels and four award-winning screenplays. His specialty is thriller stories that step into the arena of espionage – a very popular topic at this particular time. William is a native of Chicago, received undergraduate and graduate degrees from The University of Illinois, and served as a Company Commander in the US Army. He then raveled widely in the US and abroad as a Vice President of the real estate subsidiary of a Fortune 500 corporation. William is also a landscape artist.

Will’s inimitable ability to admix humor with terror and suspense is on of the many reasons he continues to be a best selling novelist. For a taste of his style (in case this is your first Brown book - or since this is Book 1 of a new series) adjust your mind to the following – ‘I knew I was in trouble when Gino Parini shoved that .45 automatic in my face and made me read my own obituary. I’m not talking about something vague or California-cosmic, like the San Andreas Fault will turn Nevada into beachfront property, or those McDonald's French fries will seal my arteries shut, or second-hand smoke will give me lung cancer. I’m talking about my own honest-to-God black-and-white obituary ripped from page thirty-two of that morning’s Columbus, Ohio newspaper: TALBOTT, PETER EMERSON, age 33, of Columbus, died Sunday at Varner Clinic following a tragic automobile accident. President and founder of Center Financial Advisors of Columbus. Formerly of Los Angeles, a 1999 graduate of UCLA and a lieutenant, US Army Transportation Corps... That was me. I was Talbott, Peter Emerson, 33 years old, and formerly from Los Angeles. I had graduated from UCLA and I had been a lieutenant in the Army. Coincidence? I didn’t think so. There was only one of me and I didn’t die in the Varner Clinic or anywhere else last Sunday. I was an aeronautical software engineer and I had never been to Columbus or heard of Center Financial Advisors, much less been its President. Still, when you’re looking into a set of hard, dark eyes and a .45 automatic, it’s hard to argue the fine points.’

Then prepare for sharp-edged suspense with a dollop of humor and the story follows - ‘Someone with a scalpel and embalming table is planting bodies under other people’s names. Pete Talbott, a harried Boston computer wonk, is still grieving over the death of his wife, when he finds himself at the wrong end of Gino Parini’s .45 reading his own obituary torn from the morning newspaper. Talbott figures it’s all a big mistake, until Parini shows him his wife’s obituary too; and that’s a mystery that Pete Talbott can’t leave well-enough alone. Sandy Kasmarek is a kick-ass art gallery attendant on Chicago’s stylish North Michigan Avenue, and her late and un-lamented husband is also featured in another of the bogus obituaries. With a photographer’s sharp eye and the quick feet of a black belt, she and Pete are soon embroiled in government corruption, organized crime, and an FBI undercover shell game. From a funeral home in Indiana, to car chases on the Dan Ryan Expressway, a bloody townhouse in Boston’s Back Bay, snipers in New York’s Washington Square, the cramped lower bunk on an AMTRAK train, they find themselves knee-deep in sleazy lawyers, corrupt County sheriffs, the FBI, and Mafia hit men. And if Pete and Sandy can’t stop him, they know they will be next on the Undertaker’s list.’

Always keep an eye out for Bill’s next winner. It is sure to come along. Grady Harp, April 17







Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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