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Act Normal
Eighth in the Stan Turner mystery series

by William Manchee

      Though this is the eighth in the Stan Turner mystery series, elements of science fiction have pervaded this book and its predecessor. It has spurred William Manchee on to the writing of a science fiction trilogy, which will be out later this year.

William Manchee is a successful Texas attorney who turned to writing mysteries several years ago, just for fun. He has been a prolific author who gives his readers an insiderís look behind the doors of the small law firm of Turner & Waters (Stan Turner and Paula Waters). The work isn't glamorous, but it definitely is exciting, especially since Turner started working for the CIA and their clandestine mission with the Tarizons, a race of beings from outer space. The CIA has brokered a deal to trade Earth's children for technology, and Stanís son is on the Tarizon homeworld going to school.

In Act Normal, Turner and his partner handle two murder cases, one of which may be tied to the Tarizons. In addition, Stan takes on the bankruptcy case of two of his good friends that soon is complicated by accusations of embezzlement and fraud. He is aided by an exotic Tarizon woman named Tehra, who acts as his legal intern. Through Tehra, Turner learns of an alien civil war brewing on the Tarizon home world and how his son may be involved.

The legal details are interesting, especially the legwork that both lawyers have to do as well as the inner workings of three trials. Of course, the alien angle is fascinating and surprisingly plausible. But what I found equally intriguing was the believability that an embezzler was able to generate around his twists of the truth. I felt hopeless that Turner and Tehra would be able to help his friends untangle the lies from the truth. That's the reality of law (or life, for that matter). Unless there is incontrovertible proof to the contrary, sometimes it is a matter of how the truth is shaped by the speaker.

This is my first experience reading a Stan Turner mystery. I found the writing believable and the characters fascinating. But I did, however, have trouble with the changing points of view. I am accustomed to reading books where the point of view alternated between two people, changing with each new chapter. Manchee, though, has chosen to write in first person, which makes it doubly difficult to drop the necessary clues to the point of view changes. I did catch on after the first three or four chapters and was able to prepare myself for the new voice speaking to me. I think alternating points of view, especially with a legal partnership like Turner & Waters have, makes the storytelling richer because the reader finds out more details from each partner. It also is a great tool for building tension.

Bravo, William Manchee! I look forward to finding out more about Tarizon in your forthcoming science fiction trilogy and also in finding out what Turner and Waters will do in their next mystery.

The Book

Top Publications
September 2007
Trade paperback
1929976402 / 978-1929976409
Fiction - Science-Fiction / Mystery
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The Reviewer

Janie Franz
Reviewed 2008
NOTE: Reviewer Janie Franz is the author of Freelance Writing: Itís a Business, Stupid!and co-author of The Ultimate Wedding Reception Book and The Ultimate Wedding Ceremony Book. Coming Soon: The Ultimate Wedding Workbook.
© 2008