City Problems: An Ed Runyon Mystery by Steve Goble takes several classic tropes and generates a compelling read. Ed Runyon left the NYPD after the search for a missing teenager ended in her brutal and savage murder. Haunted by his failure to save that girl from her torture and death, Runyon ended up in Ohio working for the Mifflin County Sheriff’s Department.

 

His Tuesday had started well with a conviction of a brutal domestic abuser. The plan was to take a few hours off and celebrate and so he had gone to a local bar. The bartender, Tuck, had not finished pouring his first glass of Commodore Perry before the fight started. Ollie Southard had personally and justifiably been offended by something a fellow patron had said and had gone after him. What had started with a punch and most likely a broken nose had escalated to a knife being pulled. Detective Rd Runyon had to put a stop to it, get backup started after he arrested the combatants, and all that means paperwork.

 

After getting the fighters off to be booked, his planned day at Tucker’s Bar and Grill is fully ruined by a call with his boss, Sheriff John Daltry. The good sheriff wants Detective Runyon to come into the office and meet with a detective from Columbus on a missing teen girl case. The detective is already on the road and will be at their headquarters within an hour or so. Sheriff Daltry knows little else about the case and has nobody else to meet with the Detective. It is Runyon’s no matter how much he wants nothing to do with it.

 

The detective, Shelly Beckworth, is not only easy on the eyes, but she is competent too. She is looking for Megan Beemer who is from a nearby area of Columbus. Her dad is a political contributor to some of the local politicians so that has gained a bit more police attention by the Columbus PD than it might have been normally at this point.

 

Megan Beemer has been missing since attending a party Saturday evening where a lot of plates on vehicles were from Mifflin County. That and a couple of other clues have led the detective here and the hunt is on to find the missing girl. Unfortunately for Runyon, who never wanted this case, Megan Beemer looks a lot like the girl he could not save which ratchets up the psychological stress, the nightmares, and his drinking.

 

What follows is a complicated read that is part mystery and part police procedural. Highly atmospheric and with a wide range of interesting secondary characters, the tale unspools at a steady pace with plenty of twists and turns. Clearly a foundational novel for a series, the book takes the classic tropes of a detective haunted by a nightmare case and a major drinking problem and turns it on its head to create an engaging and compelling read. City Problems: An Ed Runyon Mystery by Steve Goble is a good one and well worth your time.

 

Book two of the series, Wayward Son, is scheduled to be released in early August 2022.

 

 

My reading copy came from the Lakewood Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.

 

 

Kevin R. Tipple ©2021

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