DARK TIGER by William G. Tapply
Minotaur Books; (September 29, 2009), 288 pages
This is the third adventure of Stonewall Jackson Calhoun. “Stoney” is a 38-year old outdoorsman, working as a fishing guide in a bait and tackle shop in Maine. He loves his dog and his very attractive – and married – boss/business-partner. Stoney is seemingly just a simple ordinary guy except for the fact he was struck by lightning seven years ago and has no memories prior to that point. He gets mental glimpses now and then – usually in dreams – and has skills – James Bond-like - that strongly suggest he wasn’t a mere plumber in his past and forgotten life. Just to add to this mystery, he is periodically visited by “The Man in the Suit”, who not only prods Stoney’s memory, but assigns him tasks – usually on the QT - and not something Stoney is wildly enthusiastic about.
Dark Tiger opens with our hero living his mundane life – sweeping the floor of the bait shop actually – until the well-dressed man shows up and not so gently coerces him into investigating the mysterious deaths of a man and a sixteen year old girl - The bodies found in a car in Northern Maine near a hoity-toity fishing resort. So Stoney goes “undercover” working as a fishing guide at Loon Lake – the resort – to investigate the deaths – which at least according to his cryptic well dressed visitor could have “national security” implications.
Sadly Tapply – the author of the excellent Brady Coyne series – passed away in 2009 and this relatively new Stoney Calhoun series was just getting started. (One can’t help but think that with this character, with no past, Tapply was going to make things up as he went along – which sounded pretty good to this reader.) Unfortunately Dark Tiger falls a little flat in more than a few places - particularly when Stoney goes undercover. Anybody and everybody – cops, bar owners, Loon Lake co-workers – are all willing to spill the proverbial beans without much work or investigation on Stoney’s part. He says “Hello”, mentions the mysterious deaths and three or four pages later Stoney has a whole new set of clues. Thus the ending and the identity of the culprits are a little anti-climactic.
An entertaining and quick read – just very much on the “lite” side.
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