Thanks to Carl Brookins for sharing his reviews….
On Deadly Ground
by Michael Norman
Pub. By Poisoned Pen Press
270 pages, Hard Cover, 2010
Michael Norman writes in a straight-forward kind of abrupt style that can be off-putting. An almost endless march of short declarative sentences doesn’t allow for much rhythm or flexibility in approach. Nevertheless, the author has constructed a novel with an excellent foundation, logical development, interesting characters and a long-running, intense disagreement at the core of the story.
To the small southern Utah community of Kanab comes a former Denver detective after the destruction of his marriage and his career. J.D. Books is hurting. He needs a job and he needs to recover. Through the probable intervention of his father, Kanab being the town of his youth, Books lands a job with the Bureau of Land management as the local representative of law enforcement. The town is divided among those who favor environmental concerns for preserving the natural wonders of the area, and others, who see the vast expanses of land as development potential.
David Greenbriar leads an environmental alliance which, in spite of internal disagreements as to strategy, seems to be winning the local fight to protect the millions of acres of relatively unspoiled land against the desires of developers. Books is hardly settled into his doublewide mobile home when Greenbriar is murdered, shot once while camping in the wilderness. With some reluctance, Books BLM boss agrees to let him run the murder investigation, his experience being far broader than anyone in the small community. This decision puts Brooks into conflict with his family’s friends and his efforts to balance impartiality with finding the killer makes an interesting story.
In the end, Norman’s straight ahead style, serves the story well and while twists and turns are not part of the picture, “On Dangerous Ground,” is a solid detective story with comfortable characters many readers will want to see again.