Friday, April 10, 2020

Book Review: Nearly Departed in Deadwood (Deadwood, #1) by Ann Charles

Nearly Departed in Deadwood by Ann Charles

One hilarious mystery thriller!

Author Ann Charles earned her degree in English from the University of Washington and is enjoying a very successful career as a novelist specializing in fiction – a blend of romance, mystery, things bizarre, and humor. Her work has been rewarded by not only a large audience of fans, but also with recognition in such awards as The Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence and the Romance writers of America Golden Heart Award among others. To date she has published over forty books in both novel and short story collections.

The ability to make fine mystery hilarious is a gift Ann Charles owns. Her stories are populated with strange characters whose idiosyncrasies amplify the plot line. Though this is a long story (nearly 400 pages) the writing is so fluid and bracing that reading the book becomes an addictive pleasure that many readers will find it is a fine evening’s read. 

This is the first volume of a (so far) ten volume series and from the tone of the opening pages, Ann quickly establishes the flavor that will suffuse this story (as well as the many others in the set). ‘The first time I came to Deadwood, I got shot in the a**. Now, twenty-five years later, as I stared into the double barrels of Old Man Harvey’s shotgun, irony was having a fiesta and I was the piƱata. I tried to produce a polite smile, but my cheeks had petrified along with my heart. “You wouldn’t shoot a girl, would you?” Old Man Harvey snorted, his whole face contorting with the effort. “Lady, I’d blow the damned Easter bunny’s head off if he was tryin’ to take what’s mine.” He cocked his shotgun—his version of an exclamation mark… “I’m with Calamity Jane Realty, I swear! I came to …” With Harvey threatening to fill my lungs with peepholes, I had trouble remembering why I’d driven out to this corner of the boonies. Oh, yeah. Lowering one of my hands, I held out my crushed business card. “I want to help you sell your ranch.”

That stylish language carries along this entertaining story which the author condenses as follows: ‘Little girls are vanishing from Deadwood, South Dakota, and Violet Parker's daughter could be next. She's desperate to find the monster behind the abductions. But if she's not careful, Violet just might end up as one of Deadwood's dearly departed.’ The additive art is by C.S. Kunkle.

The adventure provides just that sort of diversion we all need on occasion – solid story development ushering in interesting at somewhat askew characters all related with one fine bunch of belly laughs. Read and enjoy! 

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.