‘Punctured,’ by Rex Kusler


Rex Kusler shows promise as a mystery writer. Punctured is the first in his Las Vegas Mystery series.

The hero is Jim Snow, a former Las Vegas police detective who left the job to become a professional card player. But he’s had an unlucky streak recently and is thinking about other possibilities. Then he gets a call from his sister Karen, who also lives in Vegas. Her husband has been murdered, and she knows the police suspect her and her (male) neighbor.

Jim has never been all that close to Karen, but he agrees to help. With the assistance of a woman cop and a homeless man, he starts sorting through a tangle of motives and scenarios.

Author Kusler has the talent to be a good novelist, I believe. He writes a good sentence (most of the time), and knows how to stage a good scene. His problem is character development. His way of revealing his characters is to have them spill their entire life stories, with or without prompting, the minute they first appear. It stretches credibility the first time, and becomes funny when repeated again and again.

There are several books in this series now, and one hopes the author has improved his technique. I’d be inclined to try the next book, but there was one scene of fairly heavy-handed feminism that put me off. But Punctured isn’t a bad book, if you overlook the character development problem. Cautions for language, but it’s not terribly bad in that regard either.

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