Surprise! I have yet another review of a David Housewright novel for you tonight.
Well, actually there is a surprise. Here it is: I didn’t like What the Dead Leave Behind a whole lot. Definitely my least favorite of the Mac McKenzie series.
To some extent that’s because the author waxes political in this one. But that’s not the only reason.
Mac McKenzie is a millionaire former cop in the Twin Cities who does investigations for friends, just to keep his hand in. But when his girlfriend’s daughter Erica asks him to look into something for her college friend Malcolm, he’s not sure about it. He doesn’t like Malcolm that much on short acquaintance.
Malcolm’s father was found murdered a year ago in a park in New Brighton, a northern Minneapolis suburb (I was there on Sunday, as it happens). The police haven’t made any progress finding the killer. Oddly, Malcolm’s mother seems less than enthusiastic about Mac’s investigation. Mac learns there was another unsolved murder in New Brighton recently, that of a cosmetics company owner, and – oddly – Malcom’s father had worked for the same company. Mac starts looking into their connections, and is drawn to an apparently innocent group of friends – families of high school softball players who get together for “hot dish” (that’s Minnesotan for casserole, of course) dinners once a week.
I had two problems with What the Dead Leave Behind. One was that it seemed to be tailor-written for the Me Too movement – there’s lots of sermonizing on rape and rape culture. Mac’s breezy sense of humor sits awkwardly in a setting where he has to pause periodically to apologize for his sins. I could have told the author that there’s no point trying to write a book to show women that you understand their problems. They won’t believe you, and they’ll still condemn you by association.
A short trip to New Ulm gives Mac the opportunity to offer a one-sided synopsis of the Dakota War. On the other hand, he spends time in a bar there I visited once.
Also, all the female suspects – and there are a bunch of them – are very nice people, and physically beautiful whatever their ages. I found it impossible to keep them straight, which interfered with my reading.
What the Dead Leave Behind was disappointing to me. You may like it better. Cautions for the usual.