Welsh-Huggins’s strong fourth Andy Hayes mystery (after 2016’s Capitol Punishment) finds the Columbus, Ohio, PI still struggling with personal relationships but a bit more confident as an investigator. When prostitute Jessica Byrnes disappears when five young women have already been murdered by a serial killer, Andy interviews a lot of people, including Det. Larry Schwartzbaum, who handled the missing-person call about Jessica; attorney Karen Feinberg, who once represented Jessica; and Jessica’s sleazy stepfather, Jimmy Wooding. Andy is surprised by a call from Congresswoman Darlene Bardwell, who’s concerned with human trafficking and wants to help. Just as a picture emerges of a troubled and frightened Jessica, Andy runs afoul of brutal pimp Bronte Patterson. Welsh-Huggins handles equally well the complex motivations of politicians, social workers, cops—those who are supposed to help victims—and of those who prey on them, such as pimps and johns. This series gets better with each book.
“Andy Hayes, ex-OSU football player turned private investigator, wields his keen wit as he begins his bodyguard job for Lee Hershey, a freelance journalist in Columbus. Hershey is stirring the political hornet’s nest, and when he is murdered, Hayes discovers he’s being followed. Two more murders follow. Convoluted clues are at the heart of this political mystery that roves all around Columbus, including German Village and even Clintonville. It’s a great read for this tense political season.”
After spending much of your time alone in front of a screen–or typewriter, or pad of paper, or clay tablet, etc.–there’s a kid in the candy shop delight in attending writers’ conferences. Or is it more akin to parole? Either way, last weekend’s Killer Nashville conference (my first) was no exception. I heard presentations from novelists I admire, like William Kent Krueger and Janet Evanovich, got mistaken for thriller writer Kevin O’Brien multiple times–what an honor!–and met lots of like-minded people doing cool things, like fellow private eye author Elena Hartwell, who writes the Eddie Shoes series set in Bellingham, Washington. I introduced several folks to my series from Swallow Press about Columbus private eye Andy Hayes, and talked about a standalone thriller I’ve written–more on that soon. To steal a line from Hartwell: who knew murder could be so much fun? Next up: the Ohio Library Council convention in late September. Stay tuned for details . . .