Prolific Cedar Rapids author Ed Gorman has produced an impressive body of work in a variety of genres through the years. They’ve always been good and entertaining.
Now he delivers some of his best writing in “Flashpoint” (Seven House, 184 pages, $28.95), an installment in the Dev Conrad series that not only provides the solid storytelling we’ve come to expect, but also exceptional prowess in language usage that brings a smile to the face and even the occasional contented sigh. A turn of phrase here, a word picture there and a bit of crackling dialogue to spice things up all serve to make this a complete literary experience.
The Conrad series, solid from the outset, features a Chicago political consultant possessed with exceptional knowledge of his craft and the uncanny ability — unfortunate for him, fortunate for us — to find himself embroiled in mysteries that invariably include dead bodies.
Conrad is in upstate Illinois this time at the bequest of an old friend and client who may or may not have strayed from the marital bed. He says no, but clues point in another direction — especially when the woman in question is discovered dead at the senator’s fishing cabin.
Suspects abound in and around the senator’s mansion back in town — particularly a dirty-tricks type political operative from the opposition party — and it’s Conrad’s task to sort through the muck and find the culprit.
He does just that, of course, but the mask of plot development is securely in place as we weave through a narrative popping with political commentary and the obligatory twists and turns of the mystery genre. Gorman’s political bias is more evident than in previous Conrad stories, which is entertaining in itself — particularly his banter about Fox News and MSNBC clones, and one particularly mean-spirited jab at George W. Bush.
This is Gorman — and Conrad — at the top of his game.