Paul Robertson has created the most charming characters in Charles and Dorothy Beale, and don’t forget the formidable Angelo. This is quite possibly the best novel of the year. I could not put it down and even though I had to be up early, I read deep into the night. I loved it! I want more of it!
Robertson is an expert wordsmith. His play on words, sophisticated puns, and corny puns keep this murder mystery moving at a very fast pace. There is not one yawning page in the whole book. These days, that is quite an achievement. One of my favorites is this line: “He was a teapot of a man, short and stout…” and there was something about him coming steaming and whistling into the room, but I’ve forgotten the exact wording so I won’t butcher the quote here.
Let’s talk about Charles for a moment. He is a rare book store owner and drops $27,000 on 13 books at an auction without the least drop of sweat. Nevertheless, the running of this most amazing book store does not plug the storyline flow. Anytime he breezes in or out of the store, he asks his faithful sales clerk, Alice, what did we sell this morning? They always have sold something and it is amazing how it has something to do with what is going on. Fascinating. Charles is also a most wonderful romantic. He celebrates with his wife, Dorothy, by handing her one book at a time and the title of it recalls a moment of their life together. It is blissfully charming.
Robertson has an excellent command of suspense as well. He plays the story out in a satisfying way; we learn as Charles learns, we are mortified when Charles is mortified, we are joyful when Charles is joyful. However, the very end is a pleasant surprise, not jolting, not discovered long before the last page. The story is enhanced by the ending, not stretched into impatience or yawning boredom. Robertson gives the reader just enough to figure it out just before it is revealed who is behind all the turmoil and murder so the reader feels a great deal of satisfaction. If it had been done any other way, it would not have matched the pace and charm of the story.
Only one thing that mars this delicious experience and that is the conversations between Charles and the dead man. Some of it lends quite well to the story and some of it bogs it down. It is a most highbrow discussion and if you want more insight into the murdered man and why he was murdered, then you can study those conversations if you like that sort of thing. Or… you can skip through them. I did both and it did not subtract from the enjoyment or the understanding.
Simply put, job very well done, Paul Robertson. I want more of this fare!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and the author of The Heir. He is also a former Christian bookstore owner (for 15 years), who lives with his family in Blacksburg, Virginia.
ABOUT THE BOOK
A Deadly Game of Justice Versus Mercy Charles Beale lives outside the shadow of Washington, D.C. Politics and power matter only when a client crosses the Potomac to visit his Alexandria Rare Books shop.
But that all changes when a former client–a man deeply connected in the Justice Department–is found murdered after a break-in gone bad. When Charles reclaims at auction the books he’d once sold, he quickly discovers he’s bought more trouble than he could have ever imagined.
Inside one volume are secrets. A collection of sins that, if revealed, could destroy reputations, careers–even lives. Charles soon learns he isn’t the only who knows. Going to the police means ruining a multitude of lives. But staying silent puts a target on his shop, his wife–and himself. Charles must decide: Should one mistake really cost you everything?