Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Dead Red Cadillac - R.P. Dahlke

   2011; 291 pages.  Book 1 (out of 5) of the “Dead Red Mystery” series.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Crime Mystery; Women Sleuths.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    Someone has trashed Lalla Bains’s spiffy, cherry-red Cadillac.  Stole it right out of her garage, and plowed it headfirst into Turlock Lake, with the shiny fins left sticking up into the sky.  Who could’ve done such a dastardly deed?

   Hey, I bet it was that mean old Patience McBride.  She just won a blue ribbon for her homemade jam, beating out Lalla’s entry, after the latter had publicly challenged her to a jam-making duel in front of everybody at Roxanne’s Diner.  What a sore winner!

    Alas, Patience has been removed as a suspect for the vandalism.  The police say her body was found seat-belted in the driver seat of the Caddy, dead as a drowned doornail.  Now who would do such a thing?

    It looks like Lalla has some sleuthing to do.

What’s To Like...
    A Dead Red Cadillac is a cozy murder-mystery set in the greater Modesto, California area.  I presume this is the author’s stomping grounds and she’s adhering to the Creative Writing maxim of “write about what you know best”, and I like the choice.  My company sells quite a lot of Ag chemicals in that area, including some that are foliarly applied, so Lalla’s job as a crop-duster hit home, and is quite accurately portrayed here.

   There is a definite “Stephanie Plum” influence on the Lalla Bains character, and I view that as a plus.  Both are sassy females and amateurs in the sleuthing field.  They both have two romantic interests, one being a cop, the other being kind of a rogue, and both series are told from the first-person POV.  This is certainly is a popular niche genre, and  I read another book of its kind recently, which is reviewed here.

    There are lots of characters to meet and be suspicious of.  I really liked Eddie McBride; I hope he is a recurring character in this series.  R.P. Dahlke throws in a couple of plot twists to keep you on your toes, and everything builds to an exciting and satisfying ending.  The writing is straightforward, and in a “storytelling” style, which keeps the plotline moving at a brisk pace.

    A Dead Red Cadillac is a standalone novel, as well as part of a 5-book series.  I gather this is the author’s debut book, and if so, it is a fine first effort.

Kewlest New Word…
Kludge (v.) : to use poorly-matched parts to make something.

    I opened the front door and was greeted by sharp high-pitched barking.  Tiny nails skittered across the wood floor of the foyer, and with a toothy snarl, a small brown dog launched itself at my leg.  I kicked out, trying to dislodge its hold on my pant leg, then realized that this slathering miniature Cujo was really a tiny Chihuahua and I knew him – not that we were ever on speaking terms.
    “Spike?  Spike.  Let go now, that’s a nice doggy.”  He growled, working his teeth deeper into the material.  (loc. 859)

   I had time for that early lunch after all and, remembering to put on my turn signal, looked over my shoulder before changing lanes and took the exit to Roxanne’s.  My exit was uneventful: no horns honked, no tires squealed as irate drivers were forced to brake at my passing.  Not one middle finger salute accompanied my exiting the freeway.  Gee, maybe I should drive like this more often.  (loc. 2991)

Kindle Details...
    A Dead Red Cadillac sells for $0.99 at Amazon.  The other four books in the series all sell for $3.99 apiece.  The first three books in the series are also available in a bundle, which is actually how I acquired this one.  The bundle sells for $5.99, which’ll save you four Washingtons.  R.P. Dahlke also has two books to offer from another trilogy, titled “Pilgrim’s Progress”.  They go for $2.99 each, or you can get them bundled with the first three books in the Dead Red series for only $7.99.

 “Sometimes I just open my mouth to change feet.”  (loc. 1041)
    The quibbles are negligible.  There is some mild cussing in the book (“hurt like hell”, “jackass”, “shit”), which cozy purists might object to.  But I am not a cozy purist, so for me, it just helped make the setting seem real.  There was at least one deus ex machina (the newspaper),  and some obvious clues that the police, but not Lalla, seemed a bit slow to pick up on.

    My main challenge was getting used to the Kindle percentage-read, location, and “time left in book” when reading a story in a book bundle.  Everything was based on the sum total of all three books, so it was difficult to gauge just how much further I had to go in Book One.  I know this will bug me even more when reading the middle book in the bundle.

    But this issue is solely the product of my OCD, and I’m sure I’ll get used to it as I start reading stories from more bundles.  Talk about a “First World Problem”.

    8 Stars.  This trilogy has been sitting on my Kindle for quite some time, as I’ve been avoiding it and several other bundles.  All in all, A Dead Red Cadillac was an unexpected treat, and I doubt it will be too long before I read its sequel, A Dead Red Heart.

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