A street magician needs more than sleight-of- hand to survive getting embroiled in a murder case in this blistering novel of suspense, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and George Pelecanos.
After years of chasing fame and hedonistic excess in the bright lights of Las Vegas, Rusty "The Raven" Diamond has returned home to Ocean City to piece his life back together. When he finds himself an innocent suspect in his landlord's brutal murder, Rusty abandons all hope of maintaining a tranquil existence. Acting on impulse, he digs into the investigation just enough to anger both the police and a local drug cartel.
As the unsolved case grows more complex, claiming new victims and inciting widespread panic, Rusty feels galvanized by the adrenaline he's been missing for too long. But his newfound excitement threatens to become an addiction, leading him headfirst into an underworld he's been desperately trying to escape.
Austin Williams creates an unforgettable protagonist in Rusty, a flawed but relatable master of illusion in very real danger. As the suspense builds to an explosively orchestrated climax, Williams paints a riveting portrait of both a city—and a man—on the edge.
I like books where the MC has been knocked around a little by life, and that is certainly true of Rusty Diamond. Although it's hard to imagine just about anyplace on the East Coast as small, Rusty left his home town for the pizzazz of Las Vegas, working as a magician. Now he's back home again.
He finds a kindly older woman, who rents him a house on the East Coast for considerably under market. And he hasn't told anyone he's back, so he doesn't exactly have references. Obviously the landlady has a good heart (another thing I like to see in books). When Rusty's landlady does not come by for the rent, he goes to her house to check on her, and finds that she has been murdered in a grizzly manner.
Like a good citizen, he calls the police. When they arrive, they look him up and down and sideways (remember, life has not been kind to him in Vegas). Lucky for Rusty, a high-school acquaintance of his is a detective. Anyway, Rusty is let go and decides to investigate for himself. Not the smartest thing in the world, but if I had been accused falsely of murder, I can't say I wouldn't poke around scenes and suspects myself.
And although this is by no means a 'cozy mystery', it does contain several elements in common, which is a good thing in my book. The MC becomes an amateur detective, which usually upsets the real detectives, even if they are friends.
Rusty is drawn into the seemy local underworld of drugs and protecting corporations rather than the public. He finds danger in both expected as well as unexpected places. And Rusty doesn't let that stop. He owes it to himself to clear his name, and he wants to find justice for the sweet old lady that became his landlady.
Misdirection is a gritty thriller with heart. The language is not for those who blush easily. But having walked both sides of that fence, I feel it is appropriate to the action and situations in which Rusty finds himself. There are few things that irk me more in entertainment than swear words thrown in just for effect, and that is not the case here.
Misdirection is billed as the first of the "Rusty Diamond Trilogy". I will be looking out for numbers 2 and 3. Fans of gritty police dramas will like this book.
(Disclosure: I received a copy of "Misdirection" from the author and publisher via BookJunkiePromotions.com in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)