Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Case of the Frozen Horse: A Sam Cloudstone Novella by Jimmy Martin

I like weird, the unusual, something that is new and allows you to experience more than what you're likely to find in another book. Take for instance, The Case of the Frozen Horse, begins your questioning of what the book is about. Readers will almost surely guess that it is not a real horse, and indeed the author immediately identifies the victim of the murder Sam has been asked to work on... But even then, Martin does not present the usual PI investigation just never know what the storyline from this relatively new author will cover! In fact, solving the case is not the primary goal...rather it is the setting, the characters, and the subplots that become intriguing and pull readers into the book...

Sam and Brew Ha Ha were barreling down Texas Highway 35. This highway parallels the coast, occasionally a fishing town on a bay or on the Gulf coast. Under normal circumstances they would have stopped in Palacios or Port Lavaca or even detoured down to Port O'Connor for some fishing or at least a good seafood lunch. But these weren't normal circumstances.
The drive was scenic, particularly to people partial to Texas coast fishing hamlets. They were soon in the vicinity of Corpus Christi, crossing the John F. Kennedy Memorial Causeway to get to North Padre Island with Snoopy's
Pier. They pulled up to Doc's Seafood and Steaks, went in and headed straight to the bar. They wondered if Horse's lady friend was on the day shift. Luckily, she was.
When she recognized Brew Ha Ha, she ran up to them and asked where Horse was. However, being the intuitive woman that she was, she immediately sensed that something was wrong from the look in Brew Ha Ha's eyes.
Sam broke the silence. "When you get a break we need to talk to you." That was all she needed to hear and she said she could take a break at one thirty, after the lunch rush. Sam and Brew Ha each got a beer and went to a booth to wait for her.
"I didn't expect to choke up! I barely held it together!" Brew Ha admitted. His eyes were unexpectedly misty.
"I know," Sam said. "That's why I jumped in there."
They sat at the booth and discussed what they planned to tell her. A couple of beers later she showed up and sat down with them.
Sam was surprised, and a little amused that she even referred to him as Horse. Brew Ha got up his nerve and finally said, "I have some bad news for you Miss, ah, Dammit! I don't even know your name!"
"It's Gracie, Gracie Lynn Bicchieri. Bicchieri means 'drinking glasses' in Italian. I come from a long line of people who have made their living from handing out glasses filled with beer, wine, and spirits!"
Sam noted that Italian seemed to fit her, although he never thought about it before, of course the only times he had ever seen her was the short periods between arriving at the bar and her and Horse ducking out the back. That was only a handful of times.
Brew Ha continued, "Gracie Lynn, I have bad news. Horse was murdered back in Galveston a few days ago. I don't know of any family that he had and the only person he ever seemed to have any long-term relationship with was you. We came here to tell you because we figured you would want to know. Also, we were hoping you could shed a little light on why anybody would do this. As long as I knew him. I really didn't know that much about his past."
While visibly shaken, Gracie was able to keep somewhat composed. "Do you know what happened?" she asked.
"It's strange. He was shot and we presume that's what killed him. But then he was frozen solid and left in a hotel ice machine on the Seawall in Galveston."
Sam looked at her and noticed that she shuddered at the description. She cleared her throat and begin to fill them both in on the mysterious history of Brew Ha Ha's first mate, Horse.
"His name was
Richard Cappello, Italian, like me. We had a thing for each other from the time we were teenagers. I waned him to marry me long ago, and he even knocked me up once when we were young. I thought I had him then, but I lost our baby." She let out a stifled laugh between tears. "He never would have married me because of what he did for a living..."

Sam and Brew Ha Ha had come to meet with the only individual who they knew Horse had been involved with for a lengthy time. They discovered Gracie and Horse had been an item since high school days, even that was a surprise, wondering why they had never married. What they learned was shocking and more than they could have imagined...

Horse had been a mob hit man and his last assignment involved a Vietnamese gangster! Horse had decided after that he no longer wanted to continue killing for a living... And somehow, though there was lots of trouble, Horse had succeeded in leaving the mob behind and starting his job with Brew Ha Ha...

So, where do you go to investigate how the previous life of Horse may have led to his death?! At least it did explain to some extent, the strange decision to murder than freeze him... Maybe... Soooo, Sam went out looking for help from Cyber Harry, who among other interesting activities, was obsessed with Vladimir Putin and paranoid about what he was involved with... I had to laugh that one website had explained that Stalin's brain had been saved and when science had figured out how to transfer it, they had given it to Putin... Just goes to show there really is fake conspiracy news out there...right?   right?

One thing you will discover that there is a lot of extraneous humorous storytelling and dialogue in Martin's books...but all are geared toward the storyline and adds a level of depth, but also frivolity rarely seen in PI cases... Or it might be said, that there is really no hurry to solve the case since the guy is already dead and the investigation will take us how ever long it takes...

I enjoyed the activities of Sandra (Sam's ex) and Melissa (Sam's present lover). Sandra works at a small clinic which is very important to the area...but when Sandra must be absent, Melissa is standing long as they have telephone contact to discuss what to do for each case! LOL

Sam and Brew Ha Ha arrived at Harry's office around 9:00. After building Harry up all the way from Corpus Christie, Sam was somewhat worried that he might have gone too far. He was afraid that Harry wouldn't live up to the billing he had made for him. Those fears were quite unfounded.
They knocked on the office door, but let themselves in in spite of the formality. The door was one of those with frosted glass that you would expect to find in an old Sam Spade movie. On the glass window was written the words 'Harry Kohlmyer, Ethical Hacker and Cyber Security Specialist." As they walked into the office they were greeted with Harry's oft worn impudent grin. His demeanor and general appearance gave him a forty something year old Dennis the Menace kind of vibe...

Meeting Cyber Harry was a fun experience...First Sam and Brew Ha were introduced to various women (pictures on the Internet) from Russia who he was trying to bring over as a mate...but was clogged with the bureaucracy... and frustrated...

Finally they got down to business...all of them felt the police knew more than they were willing to share...and specifically, Harry reported that there had been six separate murders up and down the Gulf Coast using the same M.O. When Sam mentioned the Vietnamese gangster, Harry first admitted that they scared him more than Putin... He then went on to say that a printed card had been left at each murder scene with "Courtesy of Dr. Freeze-Kill!"

Readers are taken back to 1989 when Horse was caught in something that would result in his major life change. Then moving forward into the investigation, soon getting into a place from which they needed to leave...soon! Somehow Sam always solves the case and somehow stays alive, many times due to a little help from his friends...Great Characters!
And, of course, a stop at casinos allows for more drinking and storytelling. This time Sam, with Jimmy Buffett songs playing in the background tells his friends about meeting Buffett when he was doing his "Buffett's Brother" act to gain an image... and how he was caught by Buffett himself! More traveling, drinking and meeting up with friends...and one of those places was the Jazz Preservation Hall, with a group I've enjoyed through the years... and then on to Pat O'Brien's to see the Flaming Fountain!

Sam and and Brew Ha are giving the police detective trouble just by looking at his case...but nothing, not anybody, could have given them more trouble than the...Dragon Lady...! I'm thinking you're really going to enjoy this third novella in the services... Do check out my reviews on the first two books as just may want to start right from the beginning and get in at the first of series of a truly enjoyable and quite extraordinary private investigator by the name of Sam Cloudstone! Enjoy!


I was born in the 50's and therefore was a child of the 70's. Born and raised in Houston, I have lived in or around the Houston area all of my life. Like my main character Sam Cloudstone, I am a graduate Mechanical Engineer from Texas A&M University. Having attended there in the late 70's, I experienced an early adulthood much different than kids do today. We had no technology like what exists today, so we were much more dependent on our own insanity for our entertainment. I made many crazy friends, and I am proud to say that I still keep up with most of them.

I became an avid reader as soon as there wasn't some professor forcing me to read. It has always been a goal of mine to become a writer. My earliest heroes were the likes of Hunter S. Thompson, Douglas Adams, and Tom Clancy, but over the years I have read everything I could get from Hemingway to Kinky Friedman. 

I've always liked adventure novels, but I have always been a sucker for a good joke. Many of the characters in my first book, and hopefully subsequent books to come, are inspired by real friends and acquaintances. 

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