Monday, July 11, 2016

Tower Lowe Presents In Gallup, GREED--A Mystery Novel...Which Coulda Been Much Better...

Greed is the second book in a series which begins in In Dulce, Disturbed....

In the back of Greed, the author graciously includes a Note about the desire for comments to help potential readers... Then she adds that the book begins with a series of novellas which have been collected into the first book. Then she adds "There you will find out how Cinnamon and Burro got started and discover the clues to Momma that led up to this book."

My problem was that this final comment did not help me, the reader of the second book in any way... You see, all through the book I had been looking for information about who Cinnamon and Burro are... That is, there are no flashbacks or character development of the main characters in the second book. Duhhh... This is not the first author who has committed this "sin in my book" but to actually acknowledge that she was aware that she didn't include "something" in her second book and referred us, instead, back to the first book,indicated to me that she had not thought about the need to have each book readable as a free-standing novel. This, well, crossed her off for me to become a potential fan of a series that appears to be one that could become popular. Sooo, my warning is that if the book sounds interesting, be sure to start with the first book if you are a character-driven reader, or you will experience the same frustration I did... Other than that very important factor, Greed is a unique and good book that had the potential to be great...

In Gallup, GREED

By Tower Lowe
My phone played an electronic version of The Magic Flute," but the bed sheets were crumpled and thrown about with such force, it took me until the last moment to pick up the phone and answer. I slipped out of the sheets and walked around the corner, glancing back at the vision of Jake sprawled on my bed.

I can see it, Cinnamon," Jake said.
"Where is it? Under the bed?"
Mesh curtains, beige-pink, fell against the Santa Fe casita's adobe walls, and dropped lightly across the edge of the bed where Jake lay on his side, a white cotton sheet over his narrow hips, his chest glowing in the deep afternoon light. We were drinking Chai, Jake's favorite. It made the room smell of cinnamon, like Momma. I was happy in that room, lying on the bed with Jake. He sucked the aimlessness right out of me, and his masculine figure in the dim light reminded me of hope, a lost feeling from my childhood. I answered my mobile.
"What's up?" It was Burro. A Sunday call from my assistant meant an urgent matter.
"Hey, Cinnamon--Alice called me. She says we need to take off for Gallup immediately. There's been a murder." Alice is my newfound connection to Momma.
"At that middle school we're going to next week?"
"No, not the middle school. This is about Alice's Native American friend, Mirage. The one who roomed with Momma in Gallup? She things she killed her brother last night..."

The room oozed money and
Brains oozed up out of the center
of a large iron frying pan and
began to scramble on the stovetop.
Burro sensed confusion, damage,
a lack of understanding, missing
pieces of information--it was hard
to express what he felt when he
saw the brains oozing and frying
in the money-filled kitchen and
dining area. The floors started
to tilt.
"I sense confusion," Burrow
spoke tightly into the phone.
"You have a vision?"
"It's forming now."
Okay. That's good, I think.
Mirage wants to hire you and
Cinnamon as priviate
investigators to find out if
she killed Lonnie. Or who
killed Lonnie. Like that."
Cinnamon and Burro travel to various state schools to ensure that the needs of children who are challenged are given opportunity to attend regular school classes. To this basic job has been added becoming private investigators, apparently because they have been brought into murder investigations on their previous trips to schools. And more money would help, of course...

Cinnamon and her father was abandoned by her mother when she was six. She found letters from her mother after her grandmother died and has been hunting for her ever since... or at least find out what happened to her... One other thing we know is that Burro has visions...

I especially appreciated the several children with whom Cinnamon and Burro worked. This minor sub-plot lends an important social topic that, in my opinion, added greatly to the overall book.

The murder that had been committed was sad for me...His own sister, having been out on drugs and/or booze, had no clue whether she had, perhaps, killed her brother during her period of being "out..." For me the thought of being so out of control of your actions that you do not remember anything has always kept me from even considering drugs, or even drinking to a great extent.

While she was waiting for the investigators, Mirage forced herself to go over to Redemption. Redemption is a neat idea--a gallery that would be used to share and showcase the various native artists in the area who would, normally, have a hard time gaining recognition for their work. Lonnie, Mirage's brother, had been one of the artists.

The author has also brought in the spirituality and importance of The Spirit guidance of the artists and describes how some of their work actually lends an other-worldly feeling when coming into the gallery... As the investigation goes on, that aspect becomes a major problem that may have led to...murder...

Inside the door, up high, I noticed a ten foot oil paining, a graying Native man, looking up and off to the east, an expression of plenty filling his face...
"Let's go where he's looking," I smiled upward as Mirage greeted us from the lobby.
"That's Nez's work," she commented. "He calls him The Redeemer--a kind of spirit guide for the gallery. We get offers all the time for that painting, but Nez won't sell. He says The Redeemer watches over the gallery and the artists." The looked away from the bronze face. "Didn't do Lonnie much good."
"Redemption must have been Lonnie's dream come true," I murmured.
"Not really." She shook her head. "Redemption was Jerry's dream that he sold to Lonnie."
..."Nez does the oils. He prefers thick lines and ridges and geometric shapes combined with realism. His works sell for $150,000 - $200,000. The artist gets 30% of the sale."
"What?" Burro was shocked...

Another side-plot that is intriguing is that one of the local residents is the daughter of an archaeologist, who happened to be the former lover of Cinnamon's mother. This has little to do with the murder mystery, but does move the story forward, I believe, related to Cinnamon's research to find her mother.

"R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Find out what it means to me."
Aretha Franklin?
Alice opened the door to Mirage's apartment.
Mirage stood washing dishes and swinging her hips, singing soul music. Alice laughed, and Mirage turned around.
"Haven't seen you this happy since college," Alice called out. "And I've never seen you this happy washing dishes."
Mirage walked over, turned the music down. "I know. It's wrong, with Lonnie gone. But I figured out how I can bring him back, in a way, by respecting his memory and changing my life..."

There really is much to offer in this book and I've tried to highlight some of that... Check out other reviews as well, especially if you enjoy a book which doesn't have an emphasis on the characters, but rather on solving a murder mystery... For me, character development is key, especially for a series where knowing about the characters is an important part of the progressing storyline. This book left me with a satisfied conclusion to the murder mystery but so many questions about the characters...For instance, are they Native American? How and why did the two characters get interested in helping special kids?  Anyway... like I said, start with the first book if you want to read Tower Lowe's second book, Greed... But, really,I believe it is the author's responsibility to make sure that isn't required...


Tower Lowe (aka Donna Tower Pecherer) is published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and is the author of mystery novellas and a full-length novel featuring Cinnamon and Burro. She lives in New Mexico. The search for Momma in this series reflects the author's real life story because her own mother died when she was 13, and so she "searched" for her mother most of her life. Tower Lowe was a real person and Donna Tower Pecherer was named for her. Tower suffered from epilepsy, and died as a result of burns suffered during an epileptic seizure. All the stories include individuals with disabilities, including Burro, who partners with Cinnamon to solve crimes.

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