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Hush Money: A Mystery (A Jack MacTaggart Mystery) Hardcover – May 8, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Jack MacTaggart, the lawyer hero of this entertaining crime novel, is a cheerful chap with a fondness for wisecracks (e.g., What are the three rules of capitalism? Invest somebody else’s money. Make a profit. Keep both). To everyone’s surprise, including his, MacTaggart is made a partner in a nose-in-the-air Pasadena law firm. He’s sent to help a client whose show horse has died in ambiguous circumstances. She’s wealthy, she’s gym-thin yet curvy, she lives opulently, and research reveals she’s desperate for money. Did she kill her horse for insurance? Sounds simple, but the detective work required to find out takes half the book. The best half. MacTaggart is delightful company as he digs and digs, and a plot that seems to be running on predictable rails turns out to be full of surprises. It should have ended there. But the book suddenly becomes a conventional thriller. Car chases, shootouts, and midnight burglaries are not what this novel is about, and they feel tacked onto a story that’s already ended. Still, recommend this one for the amiable hero and the slick sleuthing. --Don Crinklaw

Review

Hush Money is a fast-paced, funny mystery and Jack MacTaggart is a delightful, wise-cracking hero. I hope we see more of him.” ―Phillip Margolin, author of Capitol Murder

“Superbly written and paced, this sensational legal thriller reads like a polished jewel. Set in the Mercedes and Rolex horse show world, Greaves sports a smoking new voice in crime fiction, reminiscent of John Hart. Hush Money's riveting characters and snappy dialogue round out a smashingly memorable first effort. Chuck Greaves has major writing chops.” ―Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times bestselling author of One Was a Soldier

“Take John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee, Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware, and the best of John Grisham’s protagonists, shake and serve, and you’ll have the hero of Hush Money. Chuck Greaves has written a confident, cool and totally engrossing legal thriller with the pop and sizzle of some of the greats of the genre. It’s a hell of a debut.” ―Chelsea Cain, New York Times bestselling author

“One heck of a debut, and a welcome addition to the genre. Jack MacTaggart is a joy to root for, and there are enough twists and turns to keep you up way past bedtime. A thoroughly enjoyable mystery.” ―Ira Berkowitz, author of 2010 Shamus Award-winning Sinners’ Ball

“Chuck Greaves writes with style and an insider's knowledge of the courtroom and the lawyer's life. Hush Money is smart, entertaining and funny. And in Jack MacTaggart he has created a likeable, wise-cracking lawyer-detective” ―Jim Rockford with a law degree. A great read."

“Greaves' debut mystery, Hush Money, sparks with snappy dialog, rich imagery, and sarcasm sharp as a razor. Early in the book, the line, ‘…above the blooms, like a spider at the center of her web, floated the head and shoulders of a smallish woman, her darting eyes alert to the activity around her," told this reader she'd stumbled upon darn good writing.” ―Sasscer Hill, author of Agatha and Macavity Best First Mystery nominee, Full Mortality

“Greaves makes the most of his 25 years as a trial attorney in relating courtroom tactics. The combination of confident writing and a determined and ethical protagonist add up to a winner.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Cleverly intermingles equestrian show jumping, insurance claims, and high-tech science in this sunny California thriller. Great readalikes for tone would be Jack Fredrickson and Spencer Quinn.” ―Library Journal (starred review)

“An auspicious debut. Jack [MacTaggart] would be welcome back in the winner's circle any time.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“With its whoa, boy!" central character, sharp dialogue, and hit-the-spot Southern California venues, this is a series with plenty of potential.” ―Yahoo! Shine

“If you combine the horse-centered suspenses of Dick Francis with the legal thrillers of John Grisham you'll have Chuck Greaves and his first novel, Hush Money.” ―The Chronicle of the Horse

“This is a first novel that promises much pleasure to come for a long time; the very likable lawyer central character will surely be the basis of a series.” ―Sullivan County Democrat

“A great debut novel.” ―Algona Upper Des Moines

“A sexy, funny, rollicking good show from start to finish.” ―Winnipeg Free Press

“Fast-paced and inspired, written with an insider's knowledge of the legal world, it's a terrific addition to the genre, and one hopes there will be more Jack stories.” ―RT Book Reviews

“Like a nicely-executed jumper ride. The rhythm flowed from the steadiness of a well-paced triple combination to the accurately frantic fun of a jump off. And let's just say that Hush Money had a clean round with no time faults. … An intelligent murder mystery played by actors unique and strong in character. Whatever the story that Greaves shares next, Jack will be welcome.” ―The Equestrian News

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Product Details

  • Series: A Jack MacTaggart Mystery (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 125000523X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250005236
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,047,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chuck Greaves spent 25 years as an L.A. trial lawyer before turning his attention to fiction. His debut novel HUSH MONEY (Minotaur), a legal mystery, won the SouthWest Writers' International Writing Contest, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, and was a Critics' Pick from Kirkus Reviews. HUSH MONEY was a finalist for numerous national awards and honors, including the Rocky Award (Left-Coast Crime), the Reviewers' Choice Award (RT Book Reviews), the Shamus Award (P.I. Writers of America) and the Audie Award for Best Mystery audiobook of 2012 (Audio Publishers Association.)

GREEN-EYED LADY (Minotaur), the second installment in Chuck's Jack MacTaggart mystery series, was published in June of 2013, and was promptly hailed by No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Douglas Preston as "the wickedest read of the year . . . Greaves is a master of the language. I loved this book." The latest installment in the series, THE LAST HEIR (Minotaur), was a finalist for the 2015 Colorado Book Award.

In addition to his Jack MacTaggart series of legal mysteries, Chuck writes historical/true-crime fiction as C. Joseph Greaves. HARD TWISTED (Bloomsbury), his Depression-era saga of kidnapping and murder in the American Southwest, was called "a gritty, gripping read, and one that begs to be put on film" (Los Angeles Times) and a "taut and ingriguing thriller" (London Sunday Times), and was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award in Fiction. TOM & LUCKY (Bloomsbury), a novelization of gangster Lucky Luciano's colorful and controversial 1936 vice trial, was a Wall Street Journal "Best Books of 2015" selection.

Chuck is also the book critic for the Four Corners Free Press newspaper in Colorado, where he lives and writes. To learn more, please visit him at www.chuckgreaves.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very absorbing book. Kept me up past bedtime, several nights in a row. The author Chuck Greaves seems a cross between Grisham and Carl Hiassen. Where Hiassen's characters are often over-the-top for the sake of comedy, Greaves has maintained more realism. The protagonist, a lawyer acting as private investigator, is a quick-witted wisecracker, and he is also the first-person narrator. Thereby, Greaves has taken a menacing crime story and delivers a laugh every minute.

And when I wasn't laughing, I was marveling at Greaves' originality in simile, metaphor and other literary devices whose names I forget. Something as mundane as a taxi standing in the rain is described so beautifully. There is a gem on almost every page.

Jack MacTaggart, the lawyer/PI, is not a perfect hero. Many of his wisecracks take the form of insulting people to their faces, but his insults sometimes seem counter-productive to his purposes. Still funny. In a similar vein, he is normally quite analytical in evaluating alternative courses-of-action, but occasionally makes moves that seem very risky when higher-percentage shots are available. And the bad guys also choose some plans with a high-probability of failure. Nonetheless, everything is plausible, and the story stays gripping to the very end.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Author Chuck Greaves has written a fun and witty murder/equine/legal thriller, with the legitimacy of an experienced trial lawyer and horseman... someone who himself has fought client battles in court and knows the ins and outs of the law. His plot is more complex and sophisticated than you might think when first picking up the book and his characters are real, literate-but-flawed human beings, marvelously drawn, who are always fun to travel along with as the story unfolds. I am sure there will be more and I look forward the next book(s).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great story. Many plot twists kept me guessing all the way through. The hero, Jack, is just cocky enough, humorous, skillful, and has just enough disdain for authority coupled with a high sense of integrity to his clients to make him not only believable, but also very likeable. Can't wait for the next book from Greaves. Could not put this one down. Had me laughing out loud numerous times. Greaves has a very apt way with a turn of phrase.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chuck Greaves' Hush Money introduces us to Jack McTaggart, a Pasadena attorney who becomes entangled in an investigation into the sudden demise of a million dollar show jumping horse. Who knew the world of show jumping included such villainous characters! McTaggart, hip, cool and smartassy, is a wonderful addition to the SoCal PI scene -- move over, Elvis Cole, there's a new kid in town.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The witty sarcasm of the main character was one of the highlights of the book for me. There was enough inside information on the worlds of lawyers and horse competitions to be interesting without bogging things down. The plot and characters kept me turning the pages. I am really looking foward to the next in the series.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished listening to two highly recommended books on CD that were very disappointing, so this book came as a total breath of fresh air. I look forward to more about Jake McTaggert; I like his take on the people he runs into.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I now want to read every book by this author! I work in Pasadena and enjoyed so much his use of our local landmarks and his descriptions of the people and politics. Great combo of humor, action, and suspense!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Hush Money, the debut novel by lawyer turned author by Chuck Greaves, introduces Jack MacTaggart to the world of mysteries and thrillers. Jack's a lawyer who is most comfortable representing clients against powerful interests. But the fun begins when he's assigned the task of dealing with a wealthy socialite whose horse, Hush Money, has just died.

Of course, all is not as it seems. The wealthy socialite may have financial problems, and the horse may have been killed for the insurance money. In short order, Jack is thrust into the world of Olympic Style show jumping horses as he tries to figure out what happened to the horse.

The book provides an exciting mystery, richly developed settings and several interesting characters. But it's Jack MacTaggart who steals the show. He's smart, tough and extremely funny. He's a ham sandwich guy investigating a foie gras world. His thoughts and quips are not only a constant source of pleasure for the reader, they also provide insight into Jack's character. Jack's thoughts on a course where the horses would be competing ended like this: "One of the jumps had gigantic fiberglass Budweiser bottles as standards, lending a distinctly corn dog touch to an otherwise haute cuisine affair."

Jack MacTaggart is the classic wisecracking tough guy that we don't see often enough in crime fiction today. Here's hoping he has a long and interesting career.
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