From Publishers Weekly
Housewright's first mystery series (for which he won an Edgar) about Holland Taylor, a former St. Paul cop who became a smart-talking private eye, trickled out after three books. His new series is about Rushmore McKenzie, a former St. Paul cop who becomes a smart-talking (albeit unlicensed) private eye. What makes them different? Not all that much. The earlier series was perhaps a bit harder-edged: Taylor left the force after he was accused of murdering the drunk driver who killed his wife and child, while McKenzie's motives for going private involve a sudden cash windfall when he captures a wanted swindler. And many chuckles are generated by McKenzie's first name (he was conceived on a trip to Mt. Rushmore), which is why he prefers to be called Mac. But basically McKenzie is the same kind of genial doofus his predecessor was, a true son of Spenser who tells us in great detail about every Pig's Eye beer he drinks and every opera record he plays. The author has a sharp, bouncy prose style, and his storyabout Mac's search for a friend's long-missing daughter who can possibly be a bone marrow donor for her younger sisterhas some touching and exciting moments. But Housewright has been shopping for interesting character traits at the same store for too long, and there's nothing here to show that a series about McKenzie will be any differentor any more successfulthan the one about Taylor.
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In a captivating opening sequence, St. Paul cop Rushmore McKenzie comes into some unexpected income, allowing him to retire from the force and leave the mean streets for a kinder, gentler tax bracket. But when the pro bono search for a runaway who may be a viable donor for her ailing little sister turns grisly, he brashly tangles with a savage serial killer and some nasty gangsters with unlimited ordnance. As Housewright churns the action, enlarging on Raymond Chandler's advice to "bring on a man with a gun," his hero is stretched a little thin between the decent fellow who feeds ducks and muses on his deceased dad's advice and the reckless vigilante with a taste for revenge--a lack of focus not offset by McKenzie's tiresome tendency to share his musical tastes at every turn. Still, many readers will find him more sympathetic than the lead of the author's Holland Taylor books, with enough of Travis McGee's stoic charm to make this a series worth watching. A good buy for larger mystery collections. David WrightCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved