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THE EVIL MEN DO by John McMahon: Book Review

A routine wellness check is the start of a murder investigation for Georgia police detective P. T. Marsh and his partner Remy Morgan.  When they arrive at the home of wealthy businessman Ennis Fultz, they find his naked body stretched out on his bed, an oxygen tank nearby.

As the investigation gets underway, Marsh is getting different versions of the dead man.  A framed wall photo of a real estate magazine cover shows a photo of Fultz with the caption THE MOST HATED MAN IN AMERICA.  When the chief of police arrives, he tells Marsh and Morgan that the deceased was a good man.  But in Fultz’s ex-wife’s opinion, “Ennis was charming.  He was handsome.  And he was a son of a bitch.”

Then Fultz’s housekeeper says that that her late boss had a reputation as a ruthless, no-nonsense businessman, one who did his homework and found a way to get the best of every opponent.   However, she continues, after a recent hospitalization he seemed to have become a new man, giving her a gift of $6,000 for no particular reason.  The housekeeper, nicknamed Ipsy, also tells the detectives how he helped a couple who had been living illegally on his land by making the man a groundskeeper and assisting the man and his wife in adopting a homeless child.  Can anyone have this many sides to him?

Then Sarah Raines, the medical examiner, tells Marsh that Fultz had died of nitrogen poisoning, and Marsh realizes that the tank that was next to his bed must have been filled not with oxygen but with nitrogen, which when inhaled is deadly.

P. T. is dealing with a number of things outside of the case.  His wife and child were killed in what appeared to be a car accident less than two years earlier, and although he is in a relationship with Sarah, he doesn’t know if he will ever be able to commit to her.   In addition, he was involved in a shooting, and now the dead man’s sister wants not only a financial settlement from the city but an apology from P. T.  The city is agreeable, but the detective is not.

Interspersed with Marsh’s narrative is a story told by a young girl.  The reader doesn’t know her name or her connection to the murder; all we know is that she was riding in a car with her parents when a car began following them.  Her parents appear unaware, but the little girl can see the car coming faster and closer until it pushes their Hyundai off the road.  And then the girl wakes up in a hospital and looking out the window in her room she sees the white Toyota van that deliberately crashed into her father’s car.

John McMahon has written an amazing novel.  His characters are realistic, his plot engrossing.  At the end of The Evil Men Do, Marsh has solved one case but is looking for answers in another.  I, for one, am eagerly awaiting the third book in the series and hoping to learn the truth about the deaths of his wife and son.

You can read more about John McMahon 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 Oldies, Past Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.