Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Book Review: 'Shooting the Dead' by Gerrie Ferris Finger

Gerrie Ferris Finger is a successful novelist who makes her increasing popular books flow so easily that they read like afternoon diversions. Searching for some information about her, we find she grew up in Missouri, moved into the South to be on the staff as a journalist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, researching and editing humorist (and her mentor) Lewis Grizzard's columns as well as her own columns. Moving the rank of Southern Task Force, she served as a reporter, traveling the Tobacco Roads of Georgia, Virginia and Alabama, and the narrow, historic streets of New Orleans. `I wrote about Natchez, Mississippi's unique history, Florida's diverse population, and the Outer Banks struggle to keep the Cape Hatteras light house from toppling into the sea. I served on the National News Desk and on the City Desk's City Life section. When I retired, I knew I would write crime fiction. I covered crime for the newspaper. Real crime is sordid, with no romance or redeeming features. Justice often doesn't prevail. Real people go back to miserable lives. In writing fictional crime, I can make the good guys winners and give the bad guys what they deserve.' She lives on the coast of Georgia.

With this new book, SHOOTING THE DEAD, Gerrie begins a new series (always welcome) that she calls BILLIE NIKKEL, PHOTOGRAPHER. Knowing her connections with journalism this is a new direction of sorts – journalistic art in photography. And as we should by now suspect, it works well.

The synopsis is offered: ‘Former photojournalist Billie Nikkel is raking in money since she began shooting adulterers and insurance scammers. She’s hired a colleague, Ning Song, and built onto her studio. A commission finds Billie and Ning on a boat, photographing alleged adulterer, Harlon Getz. A speedboat tries to capsize Billie’s boat. Will Elliott, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent, is on a rescue boat. Billie explains she was shooting lake scenes, but she believes he suspects her of smuggling. Despite her smart mouth, straight-arrow Will is attracted to her. A few days later, she goes to see graphic artist, Dennis Birmingham. There she meets Sevastian “Sevi” DuFour, Dennis’s college roommate. She gets that loose-jointed feeling that happens when she meets gorgeous men. She leaves to meet with a new client, Pamela Lansdowne. Pamela’s father is former senator Orel Lansdowne. The family owns a town north of Atlanta. Pamela asks Billie to photograph her husband, Sevastian DuFour, at a charity event in a ritzy hotel. Pamela believes he’s having an affair with her half-sister, Naomi. Is it coincidence that just an hour earlier she’d met Sevi? Something doesn’t add up as Billie, lured by money and curiosity, gets too close and too deep into a wealthy family’s guile and corruption.’

Up to her standard? No, it actually surpasses past books and likely will become one of her best sellers. A thoroughgoing entertainment, this. Grady Harp, June 16

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.