cover image The Blue Cheer

The Blue Cheer

Ed Lynskey, . . Point Blank, $12.95 (209pp) ISBN 978-0-8095-5667-0

Set in the remote mountains of West Virginia, this gritty contemporary detective novel, Lynskey's second to feature former PI Frank Johnson (after 2006's The Dirt-Brown Derby ), will remind many of such masters of hard-boiled prose as Loren Estleman. Johnson has sought to still the memories of a deadly encounter with the Ku Klux Klan by retreating to the Appalachian town of Scarab, where people—and friends—are few and far between. Johnson witnesses what appears to be a Stinger missile strike against an unmanned aerial drone hovering above his yard, and he calls on his closest local companion, Old Man Maddox, a retired CIA agent. When the pair pursue the mystery with the local sheriff, a cascade of violence overwhelms the quiet community—murders that may be connected with a shadowy local racist cult known as the Blue Cheer. Despite a somewhat predictable resolution, the first-rate writing will leave readers eager to see more of Johnson. (Mar.)