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The Good Detective


The Good Detective

I have mentioned before that one of the joys of reading is the discovery of new and worthy literary voices in genre fiction. Please add John McMahon to the list. His recently published and remarkably sure-footed debut combines police procedure, a damaged but ultimately upright protagonist, and an unsettling mystery with a hint of the supernatural to make this new series entry a memorable one.

THE GOOD DETECTIVE begins with an interesting premise. P.T. Marsh, a detective with the Mason Falls, Georgia Police Department, is the narrator of the piece. Still recovering from a tragic incident occurring two years ago, P.T. has been abusing alcohol and has become somewhat unreliable as a result. Still, he remains a good enough investigator that he keeps his job thanks in part to his friends on the force. However, his judgment is quite clouded, as we learn just a few pages into the book.

"The supernatural element to the mystery set forth here is an intriguing one, and McMahon will no doubt address it and other aspects of P.T.’s life in future installments..."

P.T. meets a local strip club dancer who has a physically abusive boyfriend named Virgil Rowe and decides in a fit of drunken impulse that he will have a come-to-Jesus moment with him. He confronts Virgil at his home, smacks him around just enough to get the message across, and leaves. But he gets an unpleasant surprise the next morning when he is called to Virgil’s house and is tasked with investigating the man’s murder. P.T. thinks, but is not entirely certain, that Virgil was alive when he left him the night before. As the investigation unfolds, though, he recognizes that he is slowly coming under the microscope, in spite of his efforts to remove evidence of his presence from the crime scene.

Meanwhile, the ritualistic murder of teenager Kendrick Webster appears to intersect with Virgil’s passing, leaving P.T. to wonder if he might have accidentally killed the primary suspect in Kendrick’s homicide. The investigation initially leads him to a local group, but he soon finds that Kendrick’s is just the latest in a series of similar murders that have occurred in the region at regular intervals over the past century. Worse, these crimes have preceded an upward turn of political fortunes for a locally prominent family.

Something has been happening in the usually peaceful area of rural Georgia around Atlanta for quite some time, and P.T.’s discovery of it puts him squarely in the crosshairs of powerful forces that would rather remain unknown. P.T. sets up a plan to rescue a kidnapped young woman and end the cycle of death and power for good. He may be too late, though, not only for the potential victim but also for himself.

McMahon promises that we will see more of P.T. Marsh, and readers of THE GOOD DETECTIVE will hold him to that. The supernatural element to the mystery set forth here is an intriguing one, and McMahon will no doubt address it and other aspects of P.T.’s life in future installments when he takes us back to Mason Falls, a quiet place where deadly secrets abound.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 29, 2019

The Good Detective
by John McMahon

  • Publication Date: March 19, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0525535535
  • ISBN-13: 9780525535539