Book Review –  Dead Air & Double Dares

Elmwood Confidential Cozy Mystery #2

By Janis Thornton

Cup of Tea Books

306 pages

Trade paperback, $11.99

June 19, 2017

A double dare leads Elmwood Gazette editor Crystal Crooper into a federally approved aircraft that resembles a flying dune buggy. The bad luck of a goose sends the craft in a barely controllable descent during a Memorial Day celebration in town. Thankfully no one is severely injured. But someone was hurt, wants to sue the pilot, and has a nasty reputation for destroying people’s lives.

Shortly after, Horace Q. Ogilvie, Elmwood radio station’s owner, announced during a broadcast that he, and other innocent people, were nearly plowed down by the craft. The next morning, Alicia Featherstone, his personal assistant, finds him dead sitting at his desk in his home office.

According to his nephew, Tom Marlow, and other local residents close to him, Horace wasn’t always the most hated man in town nor did he always have a heart that refused compassion. His life grew dismally dark with the death of his son, who he could have stopped from being shipped to Vietnam. His son’s death led to his wife leaving him and his life being turned upside down from there. He became a social recluse and a radio broadcaster, which ironically are opposites.

Being the town’s newspaper editor, Crystal is drawn to what she knows is the biggest story of the year and she’ll do what it takes to gather clues and figure out who the guilty party is. Knowing Verlin Wallace, Elmwood County’s Sheriff, she has a way in the back door for viewing a crime scene, even if it’s against the rules.

Now the list of suspects, or those that would benefit from his death, are a mile long. Old Horace didn’t appear to have many friends or people looking out for him. But Crystal does learn that there was more to this man’s story. There are those who feel that Chip, the auto mechanic was out to get him as he’s being blamed for nearly plowing him down during the Memorial Day Service. Horace’s nephew, Tom, would appear as the main benefactor during his uncle’s will reading. Perhaps he’s impatient for his inheritance. Anyone Horace tried to bury reputation wise could be a suspect. There’s also the neighbors that hated the radio tower Horace put up in their neighborhood. And the former mayor who went to prison. Even Crystal, considering that the majority of his broadcasts focused on subjects she already published in the Gazette.

Dead Air & Double Dares is a character-based, small town mystery with residents you gotta love. The storyline has you following behind Crystal to figure out who killed Horace. I think I was cheering for housekeeper/source/friend Gertie Tyroo as much as the protagonist. Liked the fact that there were two sides to Horace’s life. There’s always something experienced that makes us more humble or total haters.

I think Crystal shouldn’t have disturbed the crime scene even if she was trying to save evidence that could be deleted by the guilty party.  But amateur sleuths take chances to solve crimes. I also don’t know why Horace could get away with stealing her stories. Hope to read the next book in the series.

Four radio towers out of five


Denise Fleischer

Sept. 4, 2017


Nathan Goyer