Friday, June 1, 2018

Book Review: 'Alfredo's Luck' 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: 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, Miami detective Tate Drawdy, but the character is so well established in this initial volume that we feel we know him after only a few pages of ALFREDO’S LUCK.

Michael’s synopsis shares the direction of the plot well – ‘: 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. Drawdy’s about to discover the victim was the wrong man. A case of mistaken identity? He’s going to find out, but it means surviving a terrifying encounter with an escaped con. And, ain’t this a thrill? He’s beginning to suspect the guy he’s trying to protect is running some sort of expat conspiracy. Drawdy’s a rich kid who dropped out of med school to become a cop. He’s impetuous. He’s a blues fanatic -- bring your earplugs. And his obsession with this case is about to get him killed.’ And to say more would be a spoiler.

Michael's writing is elegant and visceral at once. He opens with ‘Tate Drawdy popped in a CD and headed for the interstate, keeping it good and loud during the vocals, cranking it up hard for the breaks. It was sunny and cool, the sky the sort of blue southerners like to claim as their own. He’d thrown on a baseball cap, a flannel shirt, jeans, pair of old running shoes. It had been days since he’d bothered to shave. He pulled alongside an old couple in a big Beemer. The light went red. Tate tilted his head back, cigarette dangling, adopted a pose suggesting imminent death and played air guitar until the light changed. They stared, shaking, helpless. He could see their crooked little fingers scrambling for the windows. In the back, his hands cuffed, Herbert Dodds, the human refrigerator, stared out the window, flinching every time Tate reached for that knob. Tate had volunteered to take him north. He owed a guy a favor. He’d gotten one of the department’s unmarked cars, wedged a big boom box into the front seat, headed up the road. Traffic was heavy. He caught Herb’s eye in the rear-view mirror. “Johnny Winter.” Tate, shouting. Herb was beginning to understand the consequences of crime, the meaning of remorse. Tate turned off the music. “Where you from?” “My name’s Herb. I’m from Okeechobee. I stole a car.” “And you got stopped.” “Yessir.” “Cop needed surgery, am I right? You crushed his hand?” “Didn’t mean to. I just reached out, took hold of it, squeezed too hard. I got scared is all.”

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, May18

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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