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Bluetick Revenge (Pepper Keane Mystery) Hardcover – July 20, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite the lack of the underlying complex concept (fractal geometry) and the philosophical ponderings that distinguished Cohen's debut, The Fractal Murders (2004), this solid follow-up shows appealing new facets of rugged Colorado sleuth Pepper Keane. Keane's old law firm hires him to dognap a champion bluetick coonhound belonging to Karlynn Slade, the estranged wife of the unsavory leader of an outlaw biker gang, as well as to baby-sit Karlynn until she can enter a federal witness protection program. The job gets harder when Karlynn disappears; dicier when her biker husband hires Keane to find her; and deadlier when her trail intersects with one bearing the scent of an unsolved murder from Keane's past. Many of the intriguing characters who assisted Keane previously reappear, including his love interest, math professor Jane Smyers, and his friend and martial arts mentor, Scott McCutcheon. Though Keane makes some difficult choices in morally ambiguous situations, his encounters with bikers, skinheads and survivalists leave little time for the kind of rumination that made The Fractal Murders so distinctive.
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"A surprising premise and an extraordinary theme equal an accomplished debut....Readers looking for something refreshingly different should be well satisfied."

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Product Details

  • Series: Pepper Keane Mystery
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press; First Edition edition (July 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892968001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892968008
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,216,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Cohen grew up in Denver, back when it was a nice little cow town without light rail, skyscrapers, or Major League Baseball. Back when the Broncos wore orange, by God, and played football at a place called Mile Hi Stadium -- not Invesco Field.

After graduating from Cherry Creek High School in 1976, Mark attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington -- the alma mater of former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Adam West (the original Batman), and Dirk Benedict (from the A-Team). During his college years Mark was way too serious. He majored in economics (because it was "practical"), studied philosophy and religion, lifted weights religiously, and spent too much time pondering the future. With graduation fast approaching, Mark knew that the alternatives to getting the dreaded "real job" were medical school and law school. On the morning of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Mark's buddies convinced him that flag football was more important than the MCAT, and thus began Mark's legal career.

Mark arrived at the University of Colorado School of Law in 1980. His two greatest accomplishments during three years of legal education were earning a "B" in taxation even though he never attended class after the first week, and his role in the liberation of a pair of stuffed squirrels from a local pub. It was during law school that Mark gave up on traditional religion and began attending the Unitarian Church in Boulder. He liked the theology of the Unitarian Church. And it was a good place to meet women. With law school graduation fast approaching, Mark again faced the threat of having to get a "real job." Instead, Mark joined the Air Force as a Judge Advocate (JAG) so he could "see the world." The Air Force sent him to Omaha. Aside from that, Mark thought the Air Force was "way cool" and he particularly enjoyed the fact that he could wear a camouflage uniform to work on Fridays. He also learned a lot of skills that would be useful later in life, such as how to command a fallout shelter and how to run a urinalysis program.

At the age of 29 Mark left the Air Force and went to work for an Omaha law firm. He practiced law in Omaha for eight years, and is best-known for his successful (insanity) defense of an accused ax murderer. But after eight years in private practice, Mark was burned out, and decided to try to earn a Masters degree in philosophy at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. One year of graduate classes in logic cured Mark of any desire to teach philosophy, and his official status at UNL as of today remains "incomplete."

In 1995, Mark decided that 12 years in Omaha was about 11 years longer than he had ever planned on being there. So he and new wife (Tana) loaded up their truck and moved to Nederland. Colorado, that is. Mountains, hippies, and one frozen dead guy. Elevation 8,236 feet.

Upon returning to Colorado, Mark wanted to write. So he did odd jobs, including a stint as a Taco Bell inspector, and began writing The Fractal Murders. After numerous rejections by agents with the combined work ethic of a union sloth, Mark published the book himself. It received great reviews, and in 2002 was a Book Sense Top Ten mystery pick. It was at this point that the editors in NEW YORK CITY finally took note of this gentle man's obvious genius and endearing humility. Mark's fourth agent got him a two-book deal with Time-Warner. Bluetick Revenge was published in hardcover in 2005 and will be released as a mass market paperback in the summer of 2006.

Mark and Tana live in Nederland with their three children, two hermit crabs, one guinea pig, one border collie, and a bloodhound named Wyatt that Mark believes is his soul mate.

Mark sees no inconsistency in the fact that he agrees with both the ACLU and the NRA on many issues. Or, as he puts it, "I don't always agree with the Democrats, but who wants to live in a country where the only people with guns are Republicans?"

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mark Cohen is a Denver native who is a former JAG and municipal judge in Boulder, Colorado. He presently lives in Nederland, Colorado. His first mystery was THE FRACTAL MURDERS, and BLUETICK REVENGE is the follow-up Pepper Keane mystery.

Mysteries involving private eyes with a military background are particularly engaging, but add an ex-Marine with a JAG background who has a law degree with a penchant for Philosophy, who formed and quickly retired from his own law office, and you have the character of Pepper Keane. Pepper may have left the vagaries of the law behind, but his ex-partner, Matt, calls on him to steel a champion bluetick hound for a client ready to turn state's evidence on her husband, who is the leader of a biker empire called the Sons of Satan. Pepper becomes her bodyguard until she can enter the Witness Protection Program, but she decides to take off. Pepper accepts a job from her husband to find her, and when he double-crosses the husband, his life is suddenly in jeopardy. Pepper's girl is teaching in China, so she is safe. He enlists his friend Scott to help him find the girl, collect evidence against the bikers, and stay out of the line of fire. Scott is as much of a Renaissance man as Pepper:

"Scott McCutcheon. Unemployed astrophysicist. Former Navy SEAL. Fifth-degree black belt. One-time field goal kicker for the Colorado Buffaloes. Brad Pitt with a receding hairline. I thought about him as I sipped coffee at a small table beside the fireplace inside Nederland's Pioneer Inn this cold Saturday morning."

Cohen leads the reader right into the world of sadistic bikers who think nothing of killing to gain their ends.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TMStyles VINE VOICE on January 18, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Mark Cohen and his signature character, hard-nosed PI Pepper Keane, were new to me when I picked up this book on a recommendation. What a great find for me as Cohen effectively fully develops his characters, makes them interesting enough that I care for them or against them, and employs wonderfully detailed descriptions of the cities and mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho that make me wish I were there. And, he very adroitly creates a sense of constant tension as the mystery deepens and new layers are added to old layers.

Cohen's leading characters have deeper backgrounds than most fictional PI's. Pepper Keane is a PI with a military background rather than a law enforcement background. He is an ex-marine with a law degree who opened his own law firm and soon retired from it to become a PI, probably because his studies of philosophy and his inner search for his core ideals lead him to the freedom of being his own boss. His best friend and sometimes partner, Scott McCutcheon, is "an unemployed astrophysicist, former navy SEAL, fifth-degree black belt, and one-time field goal kicker for the Colorado Buffaloes." See, I told you they had deeper back stories. And Keane's array of support characters are back including his love interest, Jayne Smyers, brother Troy, Uncle Ray, and his two great canine friends, Buck and Wheat.

In this stand alone follow up to "The Fractal Murders", Keane agrees to dognap a prized bluetick hound that is part of a bitter divorce conflict as a favor for his old partner Matt.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on July 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Attorney "Big" Matt Simms of the Denver law firm of Keane, Simms & Mercante hires private investigator Pepper Keane to perform two jobs for his client, Karlynn Slade. First he must "dognap" her canine from her husband and second he must keep her safe from him. Pepper knows neither duty will be easy because her husband is Thaddeus Bugg, head of the most violent drug dealing biker gang in Colorado, Sons of Satan. Matt explains that Karlynn left Thaddeus taking 300K with her only to have the FBI threaten her with arrest if she failed to cooperate on bringing down her ex and his cohorts. She agreed to life in the witness protection program instead of prison as long as Prince her bluetick coonhound joins her.

Learning that there is a bounty on whoever stole Bugg's mutt, the simple job turns more complex than the DNA double helix when Karlynn vanishes. Expecting the SOS crowd to come after him, Pepper is shocked when instead Thaddeus hires him to find her. However, the case spins further out of control when the trail leads to a cold case murder. Pepper would like to expedite himself in one piece and alive from this mess, but knows he has some difficult decisions to make to do so.

BLUETICK REVENGE is an exciting private investigative tale that is filled with much more action and less cerebral concepts than the incredibly superb predecessor THE FRACTAL MURDERS although some key characters reappear in this tale. Still this is a strong entry as the hero has extremely thorny choices to make in which morality is gray. Though not the mathematical delight of the previous keen tale in spite of math Professor Jane Smyers on hand, readers will take immense pleasure with this powerful thriller in which nothing is sound byte black and white.

Harriet Klausner
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