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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: Dark Side of Sunset Pointe by Michael Allan Scott

A contemporary mystery and thriller—a paranormal mystery, to be more precise. Based on real-life events, this murder mystery twists and turns like a dragon kite in a high wind.

WARNING! This murder mystery is not for everyone. Mystery connoisseurs, beware. New and different, the first book in the Lance Underphal Mystery series will keep you guessing . . .

"Kirkus Reviews . . . Scott crafts an intriguing hook and a sympathetic protagonist in a world that, while seemingly depraved and dark, is clearly recognizable and believable. A well-built mystery . . ."

A Paranormal Mystery – Lance Underphal was devastated by his wife’s death, and now, the down-and-out crime-scene photographer can’t let her go. He wakes up plagued by premonitions. The double shooting of an Arizona real estate developer and his mistress/bookkeeper immerse Underphal in a world of incomprehensible phenomena and it's anything but pleasant.

The Hardboiled Detective – Frank Salmon, the homicide detective on the case, does his best to blow off Underphal’s “visions.” But the murders keep piling up and the visions are all-too real.

Sex and Money /Lust and Greed – The trail goes cold until a double homicide at a fast food drive-thru takes a u-turn back to the dead developer and a martial arts instructor's kinky wife.

Salmon reluctantly pursues Underphal’s cryptic clues, leading him from a popular strip club to a failing community bank, adding a blackmailing stripper’s murder to the body count.

Thrill Ride – With Underphal pointing the way, Salmon hunts for a key piece of evidence and the common link between the killings – a custom offroad truck. Instead of clearing the case, the truck takes off, dragging Salmon into a high-speed chase, leaving a freeway pileup in its wake.

Suspense Builds – Underphal struggles mightily with his psychic curse, teetering on the brink of insanity. His only hope for redemption is the voice in his head, the voice of his dead wife. Stumbling through dark vortexes of murderous intrigue, he comes to realize his visions will either kill him or lead to the capture of a killer-maybe more than one.

Author Comments – “Like a good movie, I want readers visualizing the mystery, living in the characters' skins, savoring the story's twists and turns, keeping them guessing until the end.”

"People love a good mystery book. And in today's turbulent times, there's no shortage of raw material."

“I strive to expose crime for what it is, exploring all aspects of the human condition and the often bizarre reactions of people coping with crime's devastation.”

"My job, as I see it, is to surprise you—weave a mysterious tale . . . more entertaining than you are expecting."

Review: Received an e-ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

An excellent tale that I enjoyed reading. The protagonist, Lance, is a quirky, washed up, down and out photographer who earns his meager living via taking photos of the crime scenes for a newspaper organization. It's not because he's not a good photographer; in fact, he is "very good" at his profession. It's because he has had personal problems such as the death of his wife, Sonja. He's finding the struggle to continue living alone without her to be unbearable. However, his unique psychic ability to communicate with people from the Other Side is what, in the long run, assists him to get back the ambition to live again. Sonja, his late wife, aids him in this struggle from an otherworldly place, by directly communicating with Lance and helping him to cope with the heartaches. Finally, he's able to fully accept his unique ability by utilizing his talent to help solve crimes which otherwise would go unsolved and allow the heinous murderers to get away with their unspeakable crimes.

Lance's "boss", a reporter who hired him for the crime scene photos, believes in Lance's artistic talent. Her genuine belief in Lance and her friendship helps him to remain hopeful and to desire making something of himself. She lends him the strength to believe in himself, his psychic talent, and indeed, his photographic talent as well.

There weren't any major reader bumps in this tale which often muddle the story by awkwardness or forcing the reader to go back and re-read something. I thought it was very smooth flowing and easy to follow, with vivid descriptions that made the crime scenes stand out in my imagination. I couldn't help but wish that there are people like Lance in our world, someone with unique talents, that can help as he does. I liked how it kept me guessing and when it came together, all the pieces clicked nicely. I thought this was a fun, gruesome, who-done-it mystery whose plot moved quickly. I look forward to more Lance Underphal mysteries!