Friday, April 9, 2010
Dead Man of the Year:
By Stephen Hawley Martin
Pre-Ordering Now Available!
A successful Whodunit for me is when the author is able to keep options of who the criminal is open all the way to the end. Stephen Hawley Martin’s Dead Man of the Year did indeed keep me guessing.
Especially since I thought who had done it was one of two others!
So, not only was I unable to guess, I was also pleasantly surprised with the cool ending!
In many ways this book could fit into the cozy mystery genre, so if you enjoy sitting down with a cup of tea to enjoy solving a mystery, you just have to include this novel on your to read list!
Brian Durston, the nephew of the victim, is the main character who is driven to find the one who killed his uncle, since the police are quite willing to call it the suicide that the scene was set up to reflect. Brian joined The Durston Negus Agency as heir-apparent to his uncle, who owned the majority 40% while Negus owned 30% and three others 10% each. Of course each of these individuals were suspects, but so was his uncle’s second wife, when he discovered that another woman was involved and there were signs that his uncle was considering another divorce!
Once Brian’s Uncle Rod was dead, he discovered that the method by which he, as well as Rod’s wife, was going to inherit was impossible—the insurance policy would not pay out for suicide! Did the killer know that when he staged the crime?
But the ad agency was also in trouble and Brian found himself trying to act on behalf of his uncle, without the authority needed. And their major account was up for “renewal” and the new owner was considering other agencies. A major problem Brian found was that the Creative Director, one of the 10% owners, was known for constantly going over the budget, while two others were intent upon recovering those costs through padding expense accounts sent to clients.
Of course, a little romance had to be added—and it came from a copywriter who enthusiastically seduced Brian one night, only to back off immediately and totally confuse him. But at least she stuck around to help him solve the murder...
This was my first visit into the world or advertising and I thoroughly enjoyed the creative versus financial interactions and how various issues had to be included in the consideration of potential ads. It was interesting to see the background research of sales across the country, for instance, and how it was used to plan ad campaigns.
This is a fun read; well written and sufficiently diverse to keep reader attention throughout. I wasn’t quite sure I understood the game plan for Brian’s romantic interest, but she did keep Brian’s interest! I also enjoyed a welcome return to Virginia and the beautiful college campuses there that I’ve visited during my university career...a nice side excursion for me!
A highly recommended visit into, perhaps, a new territory for your weekend enjoyment!
G. A. Bixler