In Bartlett’s debut mystery, a retiree proves he can still give as good as he gets.
Sixty-something Hannon is living quietly in a home on a once-grand estate in a New England village. When a stranger ambushes him shortly after he returns from a jog, he’s surprised and terrified, but thanks to his quick wits and even quicker reflexes, he defeats his attacker. However, Hannon can’t figure out why his would-be assassin called him a murderer. He has no enemies to speak of, and with the exception of visits by his girlfriend, Linda, Hannon keeps largely to himself. He thinks it might be a case of mistaken identity, but the local police don’t buy that theory, and start scrutinizing everyone in Hannon’s life, past and present. When there’s another attempt on Hannon’s life the next day, he decides to hire a private detective named George McCarty to help find out who’s trying to kill him. Bartlett successfully develops a small-town atmosphere with charm and wit; for example, the local police rarely use their shooting range because neighbors complain about the noise—and because there’s “[n]o need around here for sharpshooters.” Hannon’s self-deprecating, often age-related humor sets the stage for jocular dialogue, which offers a respite from the story’s more violent scenes. However, in some instances, the prose can be awkward; for example, in the hospital, Hannon meets an “attractive nurse” who gives him “an attractive smile, the kind only attractive women can pass out.” Readers may wonder whether Bartlett is being playful or simply repetitious. Hannon frequently becomes entangled in dangerous or deadly situations, and although Bartlett explores the idea that Hannon may be a danger addict, the sheer number of times the elderly man narrowly escapes attempts on his life pushes the boundaries of believability. In the end, though, many readers will gloss over these flaws in favor of Bartlett’s quirky characters and quick plot. The ending is left wide open for a sequel, which perhaps may focus more on Hannon’s relationship with Linda. The fans that Bartlett earns with this book will be eager for more.
Be sure to stop by and meet Dick Saturday, September 19 between 1:00PM and 3:00 PM.