Michael Malone First Lady

ISBN 13: 9781841195070

First Lady

 
9781841195070: First Lady

Multi-award winning author Michael Malone returns to Hillstown, North Carolina, the setting of his internationally acclaimed Uncivil Seasons and Time's Witness. A woman's body has been found - mutilated, tagged and addressed to Lt Justin Savile V and Police Chief Cuddy R. Mangum. Dubbed the 'Guess Who Killer' by a voracious press, Hillstown in North Carolina has a serial killer on its hands. The media and major demand answers while the city lives in fear. Savile and Mangum are being taunted, stalked and threatened with losing all they hold dear - and yet they have no leads...

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Review:

Penzler Pick, July 2001: One of the greatest disappointments for a mystery aficionado is to find an author or a series detective that you absolutely adore, only to have the author disappear or the character be killed off. Conan Doyle tried to do it to Sherlock Holmes, throwing him off the edge of the Reichenbach Falls (happily to resurrect him some years later), and Nicholas Freeling did it to Inspector Van Der Valk, permanently alienating his readers. Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo planned 10 books about Martin Beck, and within days of completing the 10th adventure of the Swedish policeman, Wahloo died, ensuring no further books in the series.

Not quite so dramatically, Michael Malone apparently fell off the face of the earth. (He became a highly successful television writer, which is almost the same thing.) Today, even some sophisticated readers of mystery fiction have forgotten Malone, who wrote two masterpieces involving a pair of detectives in a small town in North Carolina, Justin Savile and Cuddy Mangum: Uncivil Seasons, one of the few nearly perfect novels in the history of detective fiction, published in 1983; and Time's Witness, in 1989. Unlike too many cops portrayed in detective fiction as stupid, corrupt, or both, Justin and Cuddy are fully developed as intelligent, honest cops who try to do their jobs as well as possible, even though they have their human flaws. Cuddy is arrogant and impatient; Justin drinks too much and likes the ladies a bit more than he should, seeing how he's married (just barely now, as his wife has moved out of the house). First Lady is the first volume about these terrific characters in more than decade. Thankfully, Malone's publisher is also releasing the first two books in trade paperback editions, which I can recommend as strongly as anything I've praised in Amazon.com's pages.

Very little is as it seems in this poetically written mystery novel. A serial killer seems to be on the loose, but is he really a serial killer? Justin discovers a pattern that seems brilliantly thought out and then, as in E.C. Bentley's Trent's Last Case, holes are punched through the theory by various members of the law enforcement community (including, in this case, two women from the FBI). First Lady is utterly contemporary, with some gruesomely described violence and a healthy dose of (very discreet) sex, but it's also a wonderfully constructed old-fashioned puzzler, with a cornucopia of clever clues, a near-surplus of suspicious suspects, and a boatful of red herrings guaranteed to fool the most assiduous armchair detective.

Welcome back, Mr. Malone. And don't make us wait another dozen years for the next Justin and Cuddy novel! --Otto Penzler

About the Author:

Michael Malone is hailed as one of the South's - if not America's - greatest writers, and has been awarded the O. Henry award, the Writers Guild award, the Edgar and the Emmy. He has written five previous novels, many short stories, and scripts for television series. He lives in Hillsborough in his native North Carolina with his wife Maureen Quilligan.

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