Drowning are the
Dead, Brent Towns. Rough Edges Press, 2022. 285 pages.
This is an
excellent mystery story wrapped in a very attractive package from Rough Edges
Press. The title is catchy; the cover is a knockout. A perk for American
readers is that it’s set in Australia, offering a slice of exotica to many of
Mark Hayes is a
private detective, an ex-cop as many of them actually are. He’s hired to track
down another PI who went missing while in the small town of Friar’s Lake deep
in Australia’s Outback. The missing man was investigating a dead girl who may
or may not have been the victim of a notorious serial killer named Ten Cent. Only,
Ten Cent has been inactive for a long time and is presumed by the authorities to
be either dead or incarcerated.
That’s the set-up
and I’m not going to give away any spoilers. As you might expect, Mark gets
more than he bargained for as he finds a small town full of big secrets. This
is the first adventure for the character Mark Hayes. It shouldn’t be the last.
He’s an engaging character with streaks of both stubbornness and compassion in
his makeup. His ex-wife is still a cop and they have a complex relationship
that provides (for story purposes) a way for Mark to occasionally get
information a typical PI wouldn’t have access to.
As for the
writing, this may be the character’s first outing but Brent Towns has written a
lot of books and it shows here. The prose is smooth, transitions are handled
quickly and professionally, description is enough but not too much. The style
has just enough quirks to make it interesting but not enough to make you aware
that you’re reading a story.
I had a good time
with this tale, staying up later than normal over several nights to finish it. I’d
read a few pages and slip fully into the story, and then the page turns would
come fast and furiously. Highly recommended.