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Beer, Bait, and Ammo Paperback – July 12, 2016
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Chap Harper's crime novel "Beer, Bait, and Ammo" exhibits all the literary features that make a book worth reading: character development, clever dialogue, surprising plot twists, descriptive scenes, and a strong narrative voice. Consistent with Harper's previous two adventure stories, this novel is a page-turner.
The story is built upon the personality, intellectual development, and exploits of detective Lester McFarlin. Besides being born with exceptional intelligence—which has made him the most adept and famous detective in Arkansas—Lester has been blessed with movie-star good looks. When he's not solving cases that have stumped other investigators, he's wining and dining with attractive female residents of Hot Springs. However, life is not all wine and roses for this naturally gifted man. On the contrary, as a result of a car accident that killed his mother and left him with brain damage, Lester is unable to read. It's a personal and professional impediment that prevents him from achieving his career (and intellectual) goals.
After meeting a beautiful and intelligent speech therapist named Debi Green, Lester's desire to overcome his mental handicap becomes an obsession. If he hopes to provide Debi with a "good life" (and appease her affluent parents), he needs to find a more socially acceptable (and safer) career. Although he has always wanted to be a lawyer, his inability to read has prevented him from pursuing this goal. But recently Lester has learned about a medical procedure, which, albeit extremely risky and unproven, could cure him. The questions he must now ask himself are: "Will the surgery work? And is it worth the risk?"
However, in "Beer, Bait, and Ammo," the character Lester McFarlin encounters more than mere existential and romantic obstacles. His ability to solve crimes (and thus put criminals in jail or in the grave) has put a target on his head. In particular, his relentless pursuit of the beautiful and brutal criminal Angel "Spider" Gambini may prove to be his undoing. A connected woman, whose ties to organized crime spread across the United States, Spider aims to "take out" Lester before he dismantles her multi-million dollar operation (consisting of illegal gun-running, drug manufacturing, sex trafficking, and money laundering).
Mr. Harper writes with wit and eloquence. His prose is at once precise and poetic. At one point in the narrative, we read: "Stick left with a smile on his face, and Angel, still undressed with her feet propped over an arm chair, smoked a long, brown, skinny cigar and longed for a likable lover." It's a sentence that epitomizes the playful spirit of the novel and the literary quality of the entire work.
I highly recommend "Beer, Bait, and Ammo" to readers who enjoy crime/action novels. The characters in the book come to life in a vivid and visual manner. With very little effort, a Hollywood director could turn this book into a blockbuster film.