5.0 out of 5 starsSin and sandBy CA reviews on August 6, 2014
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A COMMON EVIL is the 6th and final novel in his Bailey Crane mystery series and takes us to a seaside resort along Mexico's Sea of Cortez. Bailey is a retired Arizona cop who, with his wife Wendy, has settled into the condo resort in Mexico and is now the homeowner's association head honcho. But along with sun and luxe, the Cranes also find danger and duplicity.
The cornerstone of the story is a scenario in which the largest cartel in Mexico, with a jefe who is not too objectionable, promises to clean up the violence and strike a deal with the Mexican government. Part of the clean-up action (read: getting rid of his rivals in order to run a drug monopoly with Mexico City's approval) spills over onto Bailey's turf. There's a shootout on the resort property, Wendy is kidnapped because of a letter Bailey wrote protesting the dubious dealings of an American in with the cartels, and Bailey's survival instincts surge to the fore, although not always with the results he intends.
This isn't the usual whodunit but a look at Mexico's drug war through an expatriate's eye. The charm of the novel--and the series--is driven by Bailey's unmissable musings on life and love. His voice is a gutsier, spicier, and more raw version of Alexander McCall Smith's point of view in the latter's Isabel Dalhousie series but his subject matter is both more intense and immediate. Recommended.
5.0 out of 5 starsChitwood adds wonderful finale to Bailey Crane Mystery SeriesBy Timothy M. Tays on July 8, 2014
Billy Ray Chitwood channels his alter ego, Bailey Crane, for another suspenseful tale. In this final book in the Bailey Crane Mystery Series, Bailey wants nothing more than to enjoy a relaxing retirement in his penthouse in a Mexican beach resort with his beloved wife, Wendy. But once again, trouble finds him--and by association, Wendy--this time in the form of a vicious Mexican drug cartel and the nefarious characters who populate it. Bailey is sucked into violence when the cartel blames him for a government crackdown. When Wendy is targeted as a way to punish Bailey, he must suspend his gentle southern ways and become as vicious as the cartel thugs to save her. What follows is intrigue and moral dilemmas as Bailey fights forces too large for him to defeat. With a final unexpected twist at the end, this is a gritty tale of evil that will always exists as long as people give in to their darker side--which, of course, they will. Somehow Bailey survives and still finds love and hope among the systemic evil and moral compromises. A must-read mystery novel!
5.0 out of 5 starsA Common Evil is basic in all of us
Byedenon July 9, 2014
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A Common Evil addresses something basic in all of us--the need to preserve the things we love, whether they are people, a place to live, or a certain way of life.
This is the sixth and final book in the Bailey Crane Mystery series, which started with An Arizona Tragedy - A Bailey Crane Mystery (Bailey Crane Mystery Series Book 1), and it more than stands on its own as an engaging story.
The setting is the Sea of Cortez, also known by other names--Gulf of California or Gulf of Mexico, a large inlet along the northwestern coast of Mexico. Already, the story attracted me due to its location - exotic, hot, sand, beach, and home to Corona beer.
Bailey Crane, a retired detective is minding his own business, living in a luxury beach resort with his wife, Wendy, when he is drawn into the shifty underworld. The start of the book pulls you in immediately with raucous gunfire. It offers a look of what it's like to live among drug cartels that are at odds with one another. The paradox of paradise is that life is expendable when profit and greed motivate those in power.
Against the backdrop of the fascinating world of living in Mexico as an American, Mr. Chitwood treats us to moments of self-reflection with strong hints of his Southern upbringing. These moments were for me, some of the most satisfying passages in the book. They offered a deeper look into the inner workings of his protagonist.
Bailey Crane is not afraid to be brutish to protect what he wants. While he may wrestle with inner demons, he can steep himself firmly in the task at hand and reflect on his own morality later. In other words, he gets the job done.
Through his two main characters, the author offers us a glimpse of a couple who have been through a lot. Bailey Crane and Wendy have a very strong relationship, one with a love that runs deep and is deeply personal. Within that love, words are not always required to express how they feel for each other. At times, the book reads as an ode from Bailey to Wendy, and I found this particularly endearing.
As with all good mystery/thrillers, there are twists and turns and a surprise ending that made for a wonderful read. For lovers of the mystery genre, whether you slant toward action, cozy, or literary--A Common Evil will not disappoint.
5.0 out of 5 starsFun and Games South of the Border
ByDiogeneson July 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
'A Common Evil' is the sixth book in Billy Ray Chitwood's mystery series. It is also the first of the series I have read - but I WILL be back for more.
Chitwood's detective, Bailey Crane, has moved to Mexico with his wife, Wendy, hoping for a quiet retirement by the Sea of Cortez. But fate intervenes and Crane finds himself caught up in a shootout with members of a Mexican drugs cartel. So much for a quiet life. From then on, things go from bad to worse for the ex-detective...
One of the things I enjoy about Chitwood's books - apart from the absorbing passages of reflection on life and purpose - is that his characters possess a moral ambivalence. Tales about two-dimensional 'good' and 'bad' guys bore me to tears. Not only does this approach strike me as lazy writing, but it also patronises the reader. Chitwood's protagonists, on the other hand, face tough choices and the decisions they make are not always good ones.
Not just a crime/adventure tale, this novel is a treatise on what it means to grow old, to have secrets and to recognize the things that bind us and the things that fulfill us.
'A Common Evil' is a quick read, but a satisfying one. Now I need to go back and start the series at book one to see what I've missed.
5.0 out of 5 stars... sleuth more than the sleuthing and that's why I enjoyed A Common Evil so much
ByAmazon Customeron July 29, 2014
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I read mysteries for the sleuth more than the sleuthing and that's why I enjoyed A Common Evil so much. Bailey Crane is a bible-belt gumshoe living la vida loca on the Sea of Cortez. It's a retirement fantasy life that he and his wife - also an ex-cop - have cultivated as a reward for years of catching bad guys. But when a drug cartel muscles into his beach and barbecue lifestyle, the dream of a peaceful march into old age evaporates and Bailey is thrust back into the world of cops and robbers he and his wife had left behind. A fun, suspenseful mystery filled with the musings of a protagonist with plenty of regrets, A Common Evil makes for terrific beach reading (that's where I read my copy).
About the Author
Never knew what it was in life that I really wanted to do...guess that had something to do with my Appalachian roots in East Tennessee, a broken family, and so much mobility. Saw a lot of cowboy movies as a kid and thought about acting for awhile. Loved to sing and thought about being a singer. Being an actor or a singer meant there would be audiences, and I was a bashful boy who wasn't too comfortable in crowds. Wanted to be a fireman. Wanted to be a cop. A professional golfer. A tennis pro. The 'want list' just kept changing. You likely know where I'm going with this opening bio brevity. My dreams were fleeting because I was a fickle fellow whose roots never got too deep anywhere, any time. So. when those Tennessee hills were behind me and that big adult world opened up to me, well, it kind of overwhelmed me. There were so many Appalachian and bible belt emotions conflicting inside my heart and mind that made me easy and ready to make a lot of mistakes. Make them, surely did, too many to enumerate, and my guess is I've been blaming old Appalachia, the hills of Tennessee, the broken family, the mobility, all the emotions laid upon me, for this rather wanderlust life that I've been living. Guess I've always been chasing that something that was missing in those long ago days. Now, don't get me wrong. With the mistakes, which you can read about later, there were successes and honorable service to my country in the US Navy. The successes, in my way of thinking, were: a college BA degree with a major in English; high school teaching; sales and marketing management positions with some of our top educational publishers; my own business; and, after several attempts, a wonderful wife and extended family. The most exhilarating success has been my writing eleven books. The writing has allowed me to purposefully wander through some simple plot lines and characters' lives to explore my own dimensions, to discover some things about myself I never really considered. Up front, I'll state too brashly for some, my books are good, well written, and easy to read. Sure, the critics, even I, will still find the occasional errata that most writers disdain. There is nothing, however, that has given me more pleasure than turning a phrase that says everything I want it to say, to re-read a passage that brings back some emotional echoes.