I know I’ve been bad about keeping up with the “What I’ve Been Reading” segments on the blog. I’m going to try to be better about that. Lately, I’ve been reading quite a bit of Young Adult stuff and enjoying it. But…I’m going to restart this segment with one of the NON Young Adult books I’ve read recently, Stephen Banister’s “The St. Charles House” by Dark Star Books.
I picked up “The St. Charles House” at ConDFW in Dallas in February. I loved “NO Quarter”, Robert Aspirin’s legacy novel with Eric del Carlo and Teresa Patterson. So I thought I’d try this one. It’s also a murder mystery set in a “bar” section of a city – but this city is Austin, TX.
There are similarities to the two books. Both are told first person from the POV of a colorful local character that lives in the hot spot of the city. Both contain “insider views” of those areas. Both have quirky humor.
But they are very different books. Very different stories. The St. Charles House is a straightforward murder mystery – no magic or mystic elements – but with plenty of action, suspense and twists. The characters are colorful – and you end up getting attached to Pig Dog (which is ACTUALLY a dog). The St. Charles House is a fast read, action moves the story along, you do care about the characters and how they get through the mystery of the sudden and unexpected deaths literally on their doorsteps. There are twists and turns that keep you turning the pages to figure out what’s going on – and when the main character, “Tuck” Tucker doesn’t know what’s happening – neither does the reader.
This is a great mix of sex, drugs, and rock’n'roll wrapped up in a mystery novel. Tuck ends up caught up in an investigation into the death his bartending, womanizing tenant and neighbor, and then another death of a local young woman. Were they strange, coincidental suicides or something more? When Tuck discovers hidden panels in the historic buildings, he also discovers a reason to look more closely into his neighbor’s death – a brick of cocaine. Can he figure out what’s going on before someone else dies?