cover image Combustion


Martin J. Smith. Diversion, $14.99 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-1-62681-920-7

Police detective Ron Starke, the hero of this well-written fair-play mystery from Edgar-finalist Smith (Straw Men), is a lifelong resident of Los Colmas, Calif., a small town that's rapidly becoming a bedroom suburb of Los Angeles. Early one morning, he receives a call from his boss, Donna Kerrigan, a hotshot from L.A. who recently got the job of police chief that he feels should have been his. She tells him that the body of missing property developer Paul Dwyer has been found in a pond near a big new housing tract of Dwyer's. Starke attends the autopsy, which reveals that Dwyer was shot in the head. There's no shortage of suspects: the womanizing Dwyer has built his business empire by bullying contractors and employees. Complicating the case is the victim's wife having once been Starke's girlfriend. Starke starts to fear for his job as Kerrigan begins to question his objectivity. Smith slips subtle clues into the narrative, giving the reader the opportunity to solve the murder alongside Starke. Agent: Susan Ginsburg, Writers House. (Sept.)