Thursday, February 1, 2018

Book Review: 'Tate Drawdy' by Michael Ludden

Georgia author Michael Ludden earned his BA in English Literature from Washington College in Maryland and became is a Deputy Managing Editor at the Orlando Sentinel, directing a year-long investigation that won a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Projects he wrote or edited won numerous awards over a 25-year newspaper career. His writing has extended into magazines, advertising and marketing firms, editing books. He has been a senior writer/editor at CNN's Headline News. Though he grew up in Mountain Lakes, N.J. he now lives in Atlanta

Michael demonstrates a nice gesture to he readers who may not have read the first installment in this series: before the story starts he lists all the main characters and the roles they play in the drama. Thoughtful moves such as this endear authors to readers, making sure we have all the background and a reference point to which to turn should the plot get very thick.

As an intro to the main character, the following is from the initial volume - Miami detective Tate Drawdy’s girlfriend won’t marry him. His boss can’t stand him. And the hottest Cuban in the city has just been murdered on his watch. So now we enter the world of detective Tate.

Michael’s synopsis shares the direction of the plot well - A dead priest… and a girl
Amid the engravings of the evangelists, the stained glass, the marble, the serenity of Savannah’s Cathedral of St. John the Baptist… two naked bodies. One of the victims is a priest; the other, a teenage girl. And now John Robert Griffin, a savage killer, wants to help Tate Drawdy solve the crime. That way, there will be more of Drawdy left for him.
Drawdy must survive a horrifying clash with the priest’s killer in time to face Griffin. But something’s wrong. Drawdy’s beginning to suspect someone else out there wants him dead. And he’s starting to make mistakes.’ And to say more would be a spoiler.

Michael's writing is elegant and visceral at once. He opens with ‘The sun was just beginning to edge over the treetops. Still cold in the shade of the tall pines by the side of the road. She could hear the car slowing as it came up behind her. She got in back beside the girl. There were four of them. A tall guy driving, long hair. A young woman in the passenger seat up front. She had creamy skin and high cheekbones, auburn hair, beautiful round eyes. A model, perhaps. In the back against the window, the other guy. Short, nasty looking, edgy voice, complexion like the surface of the moon. His girlfriend, childlike, and so voluptuous it was almost lewd. Precious Gardner wasn’t sure why four young white people would pick up a rangy black woman shucking an arm full of bags from the Piggly Wiggly. But then they had lots of questions. How far was the beach? What was the weather like this time of year? Any good places to eat? Any good places to party? She figured they had to be from someplace up north. Precious had eyes as dark as night and they crinkled almost shut when she looked at you. Lips, chapped from smoking her daddy’s Swishers. Stubborn hair, pulled back with a purple scarf one of the ladies had given her. A knobby gap between her front teeth. Bushy eyebrows and ears that clung tight to the side of her head. Skin, tough from the sun. A faint scar under one eye, like a freshly fallen tear. Tomato sandwiches, with Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip. They’d made her grow tall. Strong hands and big feet. Men’s feet. Good for walking. Shoes from the church store and dresses the ladies gave her….etc.

Fortunately for us there are more Tate Drawdy books on the way. Michael Ludden has crated a character that likely will make his way to the screen. Up there with the big guys, Michael is a refreshing discovery. Grady Harp, November 17
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

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.