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Death of a Matador Paperback – October 23, 2012
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Powers is a natural storyteller and the dialogue is especially entertaining. You feel like you're riding along with the detectives and officers listening in on their good-natured ribbing, privy to personal and confidential conversations as they unriddle a sudden spate of murders and scramble to protect witnesses. The banter is rich with cultural lingo, convincing police jargon, and spot-on buddy-cop wit.
I also enjoyed the vicarious excitement of wheeling Detective Starr's 1970 Ferrari along a California highway at 120 mph with gorgeous Detective Amber Whitehall riding shotgun! :-)
While the motivations of the corrupt mayor are fully explained, I'd like more insight into the mind of the matador killer. It's understandable that most people like animals, and most people fear going to prison, but I feel that this villain puts himself in extreme peril as an animal-rights activist and as a criminal avoiding capture. I'd like a little more explanation into what makes him tick, what drives him to activism and allows him to be capable of such cold-blooded actions.
Also, I'd like to see Grant Starr put in a bit more personal danger. Sure, he gets shot at, and others rely on him to save their necks, but I'd like to see him sweat-it-out a bit more, to see him in more up-close and personal all-out, whup-ass conflict with the bad guys.
All in all, this story kept me flipping the pages with fully-formed characters, tight action and suspense, very little fluff, and a surprisingly exotic setting via the Portuguese community and their traditions. If you're in the mood for a riveting detective thriller, I recommend it!
Anyway, an animal rights activist spiked a bottle of water, then paid someone to deliver the water to the matador. It wasn't supposed to get him killed, but there was too much of the drug in the bottle. The killer has to kill again to try and cover his tracks.
Detective Grant Starr is asked to assist on the case. His girlfriend and fellow detective Amber Whitehall and his best friend Ralph Bensen, also a detective, are also on the case. They were a great team in Powers's other book, The Mighty T.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Stevinson (the town I saw the bullfight in) has signed a deal to let a company grow medical marijuana inside Stevinson's city limits. He tells the company that if they pay him a lot of money he'll make sure the city council passes the bill. The mayor's name is Manny and he's a very bad man. I won't tell you what he does to try to make sure he gets his money, but it's bad.
I liked that Grant and his team, and the detective from the county, didn't know they had two separate cases until the end. You the reader knows who did what, but you get to watch the cops figure it out. Most books keep you in the dark so it's nice to read something different once in a while.
This book isn't like The Mighty T because big dams aren't being blown up and the FBI and Homeland Security aren't involved. But it's just as well written and the characters are just as good. The dialogue is great, too. It's something that could really happen in the small town of Stevinson. (It's a really small town!)
I enjoyed Powers's first two books and I enjoyed this one, too. I'm giving it 4 stars because, while it's really good, it's not "great." I think too many reviewers hand out 5 star reviews for books that aren't "great."
And one of the best things is, it cost less than lunch at Chili's!
The book is about the murder of a matador, an interesting crime setting that I hadn't come across previously, and how the ripples of that crime affect a small town, and also exposes the corruption just beneath the veneer of the sleepy town.
It is a great, well structured piece of crime fiction that has not just a good plot but also strong well defined characters. The plot sucks you in just when you think you would rather be doing something else.
This is the first of the Grant Starr books that I have read and I now need to go back and read the rest of them.
This is the way to write them crime books!