Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


THE SWEET GOODBYE by Ron Corbett: Book Review

I came across Ron Corbett’s name a few weeks ago; until then, I had not heard of this Canadian novelist.  I first read Ragged Lake, one of the novels in his Frank Yakabuski series, and I was hooked.  Then I read The Sweet Goodbye, and I knew I had to write about this talented author.

Danny Barrett is an FBI agent working undercover, very successfully so.  He begins the book with a prologue, telling the reader that when he was a beat cop, “The first time I worked undercover, I arrested my brother.”  That’s all we learn about the arrest, other than that his younger brother “had crossed a line,” but it tells us everything about Danny’s abilities and his outlook on life.

Barrett worked for his uncle in lumber camps on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which explains why he was chosen by the Bureau to investigate the town of Birmingham, Maine.  Maine was once filled with lumber mills, but along with other companies that were impacted by recessions and the changing newspaper business, the number of sawmills steadily declined until Lee Forestry is virtually the only such business left in the state.

The unanswered question that brings the FBI and Danny into the picture is how this family business, now owned and run by Tucker and Travis Lee, has over two hundred million dollars on its books.  The sales of their lumber can’t account for it, so it appears that something else, something illegal, is going on.  Danny is called in and gets a job as a tree marker for the company, someone who goes into a forest and marks which trees should be harvested.

He deliberately strikes up a friendship with Travis Lee after rescuing him from an attack by three thugs, and the two men go out for drinks a couple of times.  Even though Danny knows that Travis is involved in whatever is going on concerning the illegal funds in Lee Forestry’s accounts, he can’t help liking the man.

The Bureau wants to know how it is possible that no one at the North Maine Savings and Loan bank thought that the account holding a quarter-billion dollars was questionable.  Could the answer be in the person of the bank’s manager, Robert Powell, a friend of Tucker Lee from high school?

When questioned by the FBI before Danny is brought to Birmingham, Powell breaks down under duress and confesses to his part in the scheme.  Powell then tells the Lees that they have to move the money out of his bank immediately, and he puts so much pressure on the brothers they reluctantly agree to withdraw the funds.  The bank manager insists they do so in front of him to make certain it’s actually done, which they do.  And the following day Powell is killed.

The Sweet Goodbye gives readers a close look into what can happen when a city goes bankrupt and those in power use that power to create their own fiefdom.  It’s an old story but becomes current and all-too-real in Ron Corbett’s outstanding novel.

You can read more about the author at this website.

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.



Leave a Reply