By Jaden Terrell
I've long been a fan of Chester Campbell's work. His sleuthing sextagenarians Greg and Jill McKenzie are like old friends, and Sid Chance, the...pentagenarian?...of his new PI series is a strong, understatedly sexy hero you can depend on. Sid's herculean size (he's 6'6") is reminiscent of Lee Child's Jack Reacher, but unlike Reacher, with his legendary propensity to roam, Sid has roots that run deep. He's been wounded, but maintains his connections to friends and loved ones. And, while Chester doesn't expressly say this, I suspect Sid changes his underwear more often.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should say Chester and I have been friends and in the same critique group for about 15 years now. A long-time journalist, he was always the most polished writer among us, and at every meeting, we struggled to find room for improvement. Partly because of that, and partly because of his tenacity, no one doubted that we'd see his work in print. Because of its setting (partly in Nashville and partly in the Holy Lands), I always had a soft spot for his first published novel, Secret of the Scroll, but the first Sid Chance novel, The Surest Poison, quickly became a favorite. With every book, Chester does the seemingly impossible: he just keeps getting better.
The Good, the Bad, and the Murderous, Chester's latest book and the second in the Sid Chance series, continues this trend. As the book begins, Djuan Burden, a young man recently released from prison after serving time for a murder committed when he was twelve, has been arrested for a second murder. Djuan claims to have found the victim dead and fled the scene in panic, which explains why witnesses placed him at the scene. Despite Sid's doubts about Djuan's innocence, Sid is persuaded to investigate the case. This decision leads Sid and his partner, Jaz LeMieux, into a complex web of murder, police corruption, Medicare fraud, and false accusations. Chester deftly weaves these plot elements into a compelling tale of greed and redemption.
The Good, the Bad, and the Murderous is a top-notch mystery by a top-notch mystery writer. Highly recommended.