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DEADLOCK by James Byrne: Book Review

Barely a year after his debut mystery featuring Desmond Aloysius Limerick, James Byrne has written a second novel as outstanding as his first.  I had nothing but praise for The Gatekeeper, a novel that introduced Dez to the world last June, and I was more than ready for the follow-up to his first adventure.  Deadlock does not disappoint.

Dez’s resume is a bit mysterious, but it does include a degree in engineering, an incredible ability to hack into nearly every secure facility in the world, and the talent to play electric guitar in both jazz and blues bands.  His skill in entering buildings (breaking into may be the more accurate description) is one that he employs numerous times in Deadlock.

Thinking he would like a brief holiday in the United States, Dez leaves England and has just spent his first day in Los Angeles when he receives a phone call from Raziah Swann, a young musician/songwriter he has worked with.  When she tells him that her sister Laleh is in danger and is in a hospital, he’s on the next flight to Portland, Oregon.

Raziah tells Dez that her sister’s apartment was ransacked and a day after that she was mugged and almost killed.  The two go to the hospital, and Dez immediately spots two men who are waiting for Raziah.  He dispatches them without any trouble as well as two others who are inside Laleh’s room, apparently ready to abduct her.

When he puts the last thug out of commission with a Thai boxing move, he looks over the man and thinks, he has “heard the expression you should never hit a man when he’s down.  Stupid advice, that.  There’s no better time to hit a man than when he’s down.”  (Italics mine.)

Laleh insists that she doesn’t know why anyone would attack her.  She’s a business reporter, she tells the police and Dez, not an investigative journalist, and the only story she’s working on at the moment is a profile of a forensic accountant who was murdered a couple of days before she was attacked.  She’s sure there’s no connection, but Dez has his own opinion.

The accountant who was killed was doing an audit on Oregon’s largest and most influential employer, Clockjack Solutions.  The company was started three decades earlier by four Portland State University professors, but two have died.  To Dez it seems unlikely, to say the least, that two of the four entrepreneurs died at such young ages.  And now there have been two recent attacks related, if peripherally, to the company–the accountant and Laleh.

I must confess I was eagerly awaiting every “spot of trouble,” as the Brits put it, that Dez got into so that I could marvel at the way he got out of each one.  James Byrne has created a skilled, funny, personable character with whom I loved spending the afternoon.  Dez is surrounded by a wonderful cast of characters–good, bad, and truly evil–but there’s no doubt that he is the star.

James Byrne is the pen name of a man who has worked as a journalist and in politics for more than two decades.  You can read about him at various sites on the web.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.





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