Monday, January 21, 2013

Dead Mans Hand by Luke Murphy

Published by Imajin Books  

Luke Murphy's debut fiction kept me off-balance most of the way through the book. I was surprised with the beginning and equally surprised by the ending. This high-powered, fast-paced murder mystery is placed in the city that doesn't sleep, Las Vegas. Plenty of suspense and few clues which tend to lead nowhere. Which suspect can be trusted, is there a rogue politician or cop in the mix that might be suspected of complicity? This is the theme that will keep the police hog-tied as corruption rears its oversized head. It quickly becomes a series of murders that will keep the reader(s) on their toes. Cut to the bare bones, the mystery of the crime seems to be easy to solve, but is it?

From the title it is obvious that the story revolves around gambling and casinos. Too many casinos, it would appear. One lone cop in charge of this case, Detective Dale Dayton, believes in the innocence of the most probable suspect, Calvin Watters. At the same time, his sergeant continues to draw a few lines he can't cross. Dayton does not appear to have a winning hand, not even a full deck. About this time the reader will question who is actually on the right track, because the murderer hasn't stopped at one death and time is running out.

There are several twists and turns in the story. Just when you think you've got it right, you're thrown another curve. The characters are so well-drawn that the reader will easily be double-guessing who did what, when and where. How many have been set up to take the fall? Who is pulling the strings that tie the hands of the homicide division? Are these really "perfect" murders? An exceptional first novel, gritty storyline to sink your teeth in, wonderful characters to root for or against. Excellent first book in what hints at the possibility of future adventures with these unlikely characters. I certainly hope so, this could be a fascinating series! Kudos to Luke Murphy, great job!

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