Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cache of Corpses, A Steve Martinez Mystery by Henry Kisor

Book Review by Zinta Aistars
· Format: Kindle Edition
· File Size: 1054 KB
· Price: $2.99 (book format also available)
· Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
· Language: English
When I recently remarked to a writer-friend who writes a mystery series based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, “But you’re the only one who writes about the U.P., right?,” he gave me a long, meaningful gaze. You know, the kind of gaze that makes you realize you’ve just said something really stoopid. So I did some online researching. Yeah. I did say something stoopid.
I got a list of U.P. authors, a very long list, I might add, and among them was Henry Kisor. My writer-friend had recommended Kisor, so I browsed through some electronic versions of his books, and chose this one, Cache of Corpses. It is one of a series about a detective named Steve Martinez, a Lakota Sioux by birth, now living in the very small town called Porcupine City, in the area near the Porcupine Mountains of the U.P.
The story opens like this:
“It’s in the Dying Room,” Jenny Benson said, voice strained, ample chest heaving. “And it has no head.”
Oh boy, I thought, coming in with a slam, and didn’t wait a moment to add that stereotypical detective mystery bit with a heaving ample chest. Suppressing an eye roll (hard to read that way), I settled in for the read to see where it would take me.
After a bit of a clumsy start, I became genuinely interested in the story. Not my genre, even as I am a fan of most all things U.P., and it didn’t have the delicious tang of humor I’d found in the Woods Cop series by Joe Heywood, but I appreciated the cast of northern wilderness characters and the mix of woods politics—detective Martinez is running for deputy sheriff at the time that a string of murders takes place, leaving a cache of headless, handless corpses wrapped in plastic and hidden as if on scavenger hunt for a group of weird, sociopathic geocaching game-players.
Kisor does a good job of painting his characters in bright and memorable colors. The detective himself is a likeable person, as is his three-year woman friend Ginny, a tough but warm-hearted woman living in a log cabin and keeping her wealth quiet—northern folk don’t necessarily respect monetary wealth.
Townspeople each enrich the portrait of the northern town and its history, as does the incumbent sheriff running against Martinez in the campaign. Perhaps Tommy, the young boy with a tragic childhood that Ginny wishes to adopt, comes off a bit flat and unbelievable, a little too perfect for a child emerging from a mess of alcoholic and now dead parents and a tangled foster system. But the mystery itself unfolds with increasing interest, winding through odd Internet chat rooms and big city brutes that think the tucked away northern wilderness is just the place to hide corpses. It’s a fun if stomach-churning tale, and I’d pick up another book by this author to see how he solves the next one.
Henry Kisor is a retired Chicago Sun Times book editor and an author of several fiction and nonfiction books, spending his winters in Chicago and his summers in Ontonagon County, where the Porcupine Mountains are located.

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