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A Case of Hometown Blues
W.S. Gager

Oak Tree Press
July 5, 2011 / 978-1610090179

Reviewed by Dennis Collins

Mitch Malone is a Pulitzer nominated big city newspaper reporter. Who better to send to conduct a reporting seminar to the staff of one of the struggling smaller papers in that chain? The only problem is the satellite paper is based in Malone’s old hometown, a place he promised he’d never return to. Still, an assignment is an assignment so he grudgingly complied.

Things in the small town of Flatville, Michigan seemed to be headed downhill from the moment Malone arrived. A couple of young reporters apparently resented Malone’s presence and harassed him right from the beginning by saying there were no newsworthy stories to be written in Flatville. After a somewhat hostile exchange Malone accepted the challenge saying he would find one within a matter of days. Malone wouldn’t have to look far… the story found him.

Later that evening Malone nursed a beer at a local tavern. A large party in progress turned out to be Malone’s high school reunion. He ran into the school’s old homecoming queen, who seemed as beautiful and charming as he remembered, but he also encountered a couple of his old high school nemeses, two of the reasons he had vowed to never return to Flatville.

The following morning the homecoming queen was found murdered and Malone became the prime suspect. He fortunately had at least one ally in town, who lined him up with a capable attorney to help keep him out of jail unless formal charges were filed. Then swift small town justice took over and Malone was charged with murder despite the lack of any evidence. It smelled like a set up. Who was behind it?

Author W.S. Gager has a background in news reporting and it shows through in this novel. The short chapters keep the pace at a high level and every paragraph contains important information. The story never drags. The red herrings are there in such a subtle way it doesn’t leave the reader feeling betrayed. It has a good surprise ending. This is one of the best mysteries I’ve read lately.

Reviewer & Columnist Dennis Collins is the author of Turn Left at September, The Unreal McCoy, and The First Domino
Reviewer's Note:
Reviewed 2011
© 2011