Book By Book
Last May (which seems like a lifetime ago!), I went to Booktopia 2019, an annual bookish weekend held at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT. My mom and I love Booktopia and have attended four times in the past five years (it was, of course, cancelled this year). It’s a wholly unique event devoted to books, where authors and readers hang out together all weekend, participating in book discussions, talks, meals, and even an awesome game of book trivia at dinner one night! At Booktopia 2019, one of the featured authors was Stephen Mack Jones. At that time, his newest book (the one being discussed at Booktopia) was Lives Laid Away, book two in a thriller series about ex-cop August Snow. My husband and I both enjoyed the novel, so before I left Northshire, I bought the award-winning first book in the series, August Snow, and Stephen signed it for me. I read it during my 2020 #RIPXV Challenge this fall and enjoyed it very much, with the same action, suspense, and humor I enjoyed in the second book.
August Snow has recently returned to Detroit after a year spent traveling around the world, trying to ease the emotional pain of being fired from the police department. August had gotten so frustrated with the corruption embedded throughout Detroit’s police department–and mayor’s office–that he sued the them. The corruption was all made public, the leaders of the scheme were fired, and the city awarded August $12 million. But he also lost his own job and was considered a traitor by most in the department. Now, he’s back in his parents’ home that he grew up in and hoping to make a new life for himself in Mexicantown. His mom was Mexican, and his dad was African-American, and August has been putting some of his new fortune to good use buying run-down houses and refurbishing them. He has no intention of having anything to do with the police department, but an old acquaintance, Eleanore Paget, asks him to investigate suspicious activity at the investment bank she owns. Eleanore is tough and harsh to most people, but she remembers August’s effectiveness and professionalism when he worked on her husband’s death as a police officer. The day after their meeting, Eleanore is found dead in her mansion of an apparent suicide, which of course, August doesn’t believe. Despite his misgivings, he begins to look into her death–and her bank, as requested–which brings him in direct conflict with many of his enemies.
This rollercoaster of a thriller is filled with plenty of unexpected surprises. It’s a complex mystery that reaches far deeper than first seems and has plenty of suspense and action to keep readers captivated. In fact, it’s a bit too much action for my usual tastes, with lots of fights, weapons, and gunfire. That, however, is outweighed for me by Jones’ sense of humor that is embedded throughout, especially in August’s witty banter, providing a much-needed lightness. I also love the way he builds so much depth into his characters, including not only August but his friends and neighbors, too. In fact, the neighborhood is almost a character of its own, described so lovingly by August as he narrates and settles back into his home. Jones is an excellent writer (and a really great guy, too!) who creates intricate mysteries/thrillers with plenty of humanity and warmth. We can’t wait to read book 3, Dead of Winter, which is due out May 4, 2021!
300 pages, Soho Crime
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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, as August talks about his beloved home and family and the aftermath of the trial, and/or download it from Audible. It's a nice long sample that will give you a feel for the character of August.
You can purchase August Snow from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
You can also buy through indie bookstores using Bookshop.
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