Tyler, Texas Author Milton T. Burton distinguished himself with the powerful debut novel “The Rogues’ Game.” Unlike many authors, there is no slump in his stand alone second novel titled “The Sweet And The Dead.” The mystery is complex, the writing is superb, and the read is wonderful.

As the novel opens, it is the fall of 1970 and Manfred Eugene “Hog” Webern is deep undercover in Biloxi, Mississippi. Hog is a retired Dallas County Deputy Sheriff, a good man, and a damn good cop despite the word on the street. It is coincidence and nothing more that he got into some money at approximately the same time his former partner was gunned down and a couple of other nasty things happened. The word on the street is that Hog is dirty these days which makes him a perfect candidate to investigate from the inside the group dubbed the “Dixie Mafia.”

Bob Wallace is a Texas Ranger and a man that Hog has worked with before more than once and a man that Hog trusts without question. Wallace tells him that Curtis Blanchard, one of the chief felony investigators for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety wants Hog to come to Mississippi, hook up with Jasper Sparks, head of the aforementioned Dixie Mafia, and gather enough evidence to bring Jasper and as many others as possible down. Hog agrees for several reasons and before long finds himself deep undercover in a twisting case that seems to know no end.

As in the first book, Milton T. Burton has created another powerful main character full of internal demons and unresolved guilt who is seeking his own form of justice. Another dark hero beset by his own failings as well as the failings of others and yet finds a particular brand of honor among some in the criminal element. Once again, through his folksy storytelling style, the author has created a main character that could be anybody and who goes quietly about his business and would never rise to your attention unless he meant for you to notice and feel his judgment.

This stand alone novel features another complex tale from what could easily have been in the hands of another writer, a simple straightforward story. A hallmark of “The Rogues’ Game” was the author’s ability to create so many shades of gray where one wasn’t sure about character motivations until the every last word on the page. The same is true here and Hog figures out fairly soon that no one can be trusted—maybe not even himself. Nothing is as it seems and nothing is finished until the last word on the page.

The result is another entertaining highly complex novel mystery that results in a simply great read from an author that like his characters, seems to quietly go about his business. He deserves more acclaim than he is getting and his books deserve a place on your reading list.

THE SWEET AND THE DEAD

By Milton T. Burton

Thomas Dunne Books

www.thomasdunnebooks.com

July 2006

Hardback

ISBN # 0-312-34310-8

262 Pages

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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