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Book Review: “A Desperate Place for Dying,” by Scott William Carter

A Desperate Place for Dying
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This book is number two in the Oregon Coast mysteries starring jaded detective, Garrison Gage. “A Desperate Place for Dying” takes up where the previous novel left off with Gage still involved with his favorite, too-young-for-him,  small-town journalist. The relationship road is proving rocky, at best, but toss an old flame into the fray and you have tension for miles.

And when Gage isn’t struggling to explain himself to his overly jealous lady friend, he’s ducking the emotional punches thrown by his teenage ward, Zoe. All this and the sudden appearance in town of the man responsible for killing Gage’s wife has our favorite reluctant hero even more off-kilter than usual.

And then comes the Wrath of God — a self-proclaimed cult that may or may not be murdering people who disagree with their message.

“A Desperate Place for Dying” is an exciting follow-up to “The Gray and Guilty Sea.” Gage is still stumbling along through his version of life, trying to position all the players into some semblance of an organized existence, but there is still always that one, or in this case two,  wolves lingering just outside the ring of firelight. Will Gage get everyone safely encompassed before one gets dragged away? Or will the wolves finally take him down in one final, spectacular battle that plays out inside a creepy basement to rival any Stephen King has conjured up?

Carter’s writing is intriguing. It carries you along easily from jolt to jolt and makes you reluctant to stop reading once you’ve started. For fiction snobs like myself, a new Scott William Carter novel is something eagerly anticipated — the setting is described in prolific and vivid detail, the mood encompassing. The characters are multi-dimensional and believable and worthy of sympathy. Even the bad guys have their moments of atonement in this second, riveting installment — making them more like real, flawed and living people than the fictional creations they actually are.

And it gets better — Carter keeps a blog — And if you follow it, you’ll find a seemingly humble guy who’s thrilled that people are reading and liking his books. He takes comments to heart and uses them as jumping-off points to polish and refine his art.

A nice guy who creates likable characters and poignant settings and still cares about what his fans have to say? Sounds like a winning combination to me. I’ll keep on reading the Oregon Coast Mysteries for as long as Carter keeps writing them, and if you’re a fan of the murder mystery genre, you should too.

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