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August Snow


August Snow

There is nothing I like more than to see the birth of a finely conceived mystery series take place. AUGUST SNOW, the title of which bears the name of its newly minted protagonist, fits the bill nicely. Sired by Stephen Mack Jones, a critically acclaimed playwright, and midwifed by the esteemed and indispensable Soho Press, this is a perfectly paced introduction to what hopefully will be a long-running series.

August Snow the character is unique. A former Detroit policeman who sued his employer and won an eight-figure settlement, August is using his legal windfall to salvage and restore his neighborhood in an effort to rage against the decline and fall of his hometown. He has neither police badge nor private investigation license, which is why he declines the request --- well, the demand, actually --- of a Detroit grand dame named Eleanore Paget, who wants him to investigate what she believes to be some untoward hanky-panky in the bank that her family founded. When he was on the job, August investigated the murder suicide of Paget’s husband and his girlfriend, and she liked his no-nonsense approach to things. Thus Paget is less than pleased when he tells her that he cannot accede to her latest command, which is all the more reason why he feels badly when she turns up dead shortly thereafter, apparently a suicide victim.

"August’s keen and observant eye, coupled with his ear for dialogue, makes AUGUST SNOW an impressive debut that should appeal to a wide range of mystery readers."

August is reluctantly drawn back into the investigation despite being told to back off by Captain Ray Danbury of the Detroit Police Department, who was August’s boss when he was a cop. Unofficially, August is getting all sorts of hints that he should disinvolve himself. Some of them are subtle, some not so much, but it becomes clear that his after-the-fact assistance is not wanted, particularly when it is all but certain that Paget killed herself for whatever reason. August is nothing if not tenacious, however. While that quality eventually got him drummed off the police force, that same tenacity resulted in a financial payback that has earned him enmity in some quarters as well.

Before too long, August is in the thick of it, investigating far more than an elderly lady’s death, as his investigation expands to the bank that was the cause of her worry and to places far beyond the Detroit city limits. He may be outgunned and outnumbered, but is not without allies, including a genius computer hacker and a collection of other friends and associates with various assorted and sundry skill sets who have his back. The odds are long, but bet on August.

August Snow is an interesting and compelling character, but the city of Detroit deserves equal billing in this fine first novel. The city’s continued survival is up for grabs at this point in the real world, and while Jones presents an optimistic viewpoint, he certainly doesn’t shy away from the realistic problems Detroit faces on a day-to-day basis, even as he occasionally throws in some subtle reflection on the elements, now gone, that made it a remarkable place. August’s keen and observant eye, coupled with his ear for dialogue, makes AUGUST SNOW an impressive debut that should appeal to a wide range of mystery readers.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 24, 2017

August Snow
by Stephen Mack Jones

  • Publication Date: January 23, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime
  • ISBN-10: 1616958685
  • ISBN-13: 9781616958688