Tag Archives: Thomas Fincham

‘The October Five,’ by Thomas Fincham

There’s an upstairs apartment in Chicago where a small group of middle-aged men maintain a secret club, The October Five. They are all Marine Vietnam War veterans, survivors of one horrific operation that went very bad. They tell no one about their club, even their families and closest friends. That’s because they work on secret projects together, projects that are highly illegal.

Detective Karl Whaler has a mystery on his hands. A young man has been murdered in his apartment, and no forensic evidence can be found. It’s hard to think why anyone would kill a person as universally beloved as this fellow was – until Karl learns that this man had been systematically defrauding many people, most of whom (such was his charm) still think of him fondly.

A chance discovery puts Karl on a surprising track – is this one in a series of murders, very neat murders in which the victims are people who very much deserved death, but whom the law could not touch?

Soon Karl will be pursuing the October Five. But he’s not their worst danger. Their worst danger will come from a quarter they could never have imagined.

For this reader, The October Five started out in an unpromising way. The beginning of the story meandered, and I got kind of bored with the Five themselves, going about their everyday lives. I had some trouble telling them apart. And Karl Whaler was not a terribly interesting detective.

But the book grabbed me as I moved on.  I was particularly pleased with the story’s positive portrayal of Vietnam veterans.

Recommended, with cautions for language, violence, and ambiguous morality.

‘The Dead Daughter,’ by Thomas Fincham

The Dead Daughter

Possibly the worst book title I’ve ever seen. Thomas Fincham’s The Dead Daughter isn’t as bad as its name, but it’s no masterpiece.

Kyla Gardener was the daughter of a wealthy couple in the (fictional, I think) city of Milton. When her mother Sharon finds her dead, strangled and stabbed, suspicion falls on her father, Paul. The marriage is struggling, and he’s been sleeping in the guest house. The burglar alarm had been turned off. The murder knife was found in his car, and a smear of her blood was found on his shirt. He himself had been drinking and has no memory of the night at all.

But private eye Lee Callahan has information for the police – Paul had hired him to follow Sharon as part of his divorce defense. She was gone that night, not at home as she claimed, and it was she who turned off the burglar alarm. That’s enough to get Paul out on bail, and Lee takes it on himself – out of pure generosity – to try to balance the one-sided investigation the police are running. What he discovers will be shocking.

The thing that kept me reading The Dead Daughter was that the story itself wasn’t bad. Lee Callahan is interesting and sympathetic as a character. But the writing was… unfortunate. Amateur. First draft stuff.

Holt began to pace the room like he normally did. He was like a bull who wanted to let off steam.

It was a family secret, one they did not want the public to find out about.

Author Fincham, according to his bio, has written quite a few novels. Apparently he hasn’t learned a thing about writing all through the process. If he’d put some work in on that front, I think he’d be a good novelist.