Hard Cache, by Charles B. Neff

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

 When retired police detective Magnus Torval travels to Washington state with his fiance, all that is on his mind is meeting up with friends and marrying the woman of his dreams.  That is, until he stumbled over a dead body while fishing in the wilderness.  After handing the body, and the case, over to the police in tiny Swiftwater, he tries to go about the business of getting married.  But the mystery surrounding the death of a Ukrainian antique dealer, the suspicion around his best friend, a prominent church leader, and the connection of both to a terrible event that happened when the two friends were Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan, draw in not only Torval, but the murdered man's son, who is a local policeman, and a young Ukrainian woman who is visiting for the wedding.

This was a perfectly enjoyable, if somewhat awkwardly written, mystery.  The author is a college professor who has also written non-fiction texts, and it shows in his fiction writing.  The dialogue is just a little too clunky, the descriptive paragraphs are a little off-kilter.  That said, the story itself is engaging.  The characters are a unique group of people-you truly get a little bit of everything from this crowd.  I especially enjoyed the way the modern day mystery was tied into the Soviet/Afghan War.  The history of that region became of interest to me when I was following the oppression of women there under the Taliban, and has become increasingly important to me since we are fighting a war over there now.  This book, while fiction, gave me a little more insight than I had before about what it might have been like from the Soviet side of the story.  All in all, this was an enjoyable way to spend a few days.

(This was the first book I was asked to review by a publisher, and I got it for free.  I know there is probably some official FCC language I am supposed to use for that, but I can't find it, so FCC, if you are one of the 50 people who looks at this blog a day, I'm sorry!)

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