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Random Road: A Geneva Chase Mystery

Review

Random Road: A Geneva Chase Mystery

Always on the lookout for promising new mystery writers, I eyed the cover of RANDOM ROAD by Thomas Kies with hope: “A Geneva Chase Mystery.” Can this be a clue of a series I’ve missed? When you see an author’s name you don’t recognize, that inner detective lurking inside every inveterate mystery maven’s psyche sets off a tingle of hope. This happened a year ago when I read my first Peter Lovesey mystery that turned out to be #11 in a series, leading me to gobble up the entire backlist while recovering from surgery. P. J. Tracy was another prize package of backlist delights. So it was with anticipation that I peeped at the author list opposite the title page, and voila! RANDOM ROAD is the first of what appears to be a promising series from former journalist Thomas Kies.

Geneva Chase is a fresh new protagonist for noir mystery buffs. Genie once was a seasoned crime reporter at the Boston Globe, but at age 39 she’s on the skids because of bad personal choices. She found herself slipping to smaller and lesser print media due to a predilection for vodka, and has finally hit bottom at a suburban paper on the Gold Coast of Connecticut. She lives in her late mother’s house in an aging neighborhood, drives a rusted-out clunker, still covering the cop shop, but barely hanging on to her job with no place to go but out.

"Kies, himself a seasoned journalist, brings his narrative skills and experience to catapult Genie into a humdinger of a series hit.... Poisoned Pen Press, which enjoys a growing reputation for discovering and promoting new authors, stepped up to publish this gripping, often amusing novel."

Due to rare good luck, Genie is first on the scene of a horrific series of murders in a posh, gated waterfront community. Six people have been brutally killed in what soon will be disclosed as a sex scandal. It’s do-or-die time for Genie.

If you like your characters warts and all, Genie is for you. Her bad choices include an extramarital relationship; she’s single, but her high-profile lawyer boyfriend is not. When she runs into an old high school friend at an AA meeting, they rekindle their relationship --- never a promising start for a romance. Is this high-stakes murder investigation, hers for the first 24 hours before it suddenly splashes on front pages and national TV, her ticket to get back in the game? Genie needs to hang on to her sources, overcome her checkered past and pull her life together. She has a long way to go.

Kies, himself a seasoned journalist, brings his narrative skills and experience to catapult Genie into a humdinger of a series hit. His story is like so many other aspiring novelists in the dog-eat-dog world of hopeful writers: rejection from one publisher after another until getting a shot. Poisoned Pen Press, which enjoys a growing reputation for discovering and promoting new authors, stepped up to publish this gripping, often amusing novel.

The Poisoned Pen bookstore in the heart of the Art Gallery district of upscale Scottsdale, Arizona, holds a feast-for-the-eye collection in a sprawling cluster of rooms, featuring wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling displays of bookshelves holding virtually every known mystery writer from Agatha Christie and Dashiell Hammet to who’s hot now. Barbara Peters, the store's owner and editor-in-chief at Poisoned Pen Press, regularly hosts author chats there with the authority, grace and humor of the seasoned interviewer she is. She draws on personal tidbits of well-researched information in front of an overflowing room of regulars.

Long ago, I interviewed Janet Evanovich at the bookstore, and only a dozen people showed up. I later had to buy a ticket and stand on line at the Scottsdale Public Library for a sold-out crowd as her bounty hunter protagonist, Stephanie Plum, skyrocketed to fame. May Thomas Kies take Geneva Chase, the noir and naughty heroine of RANDOM ROAD, to similar heights. She has a legitimate shot at it.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on May 12, 2017

Random Road: A Geneva Chase Mystery
by Thomas Kies

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
  • ISBN-10: 146420800X
  • ISBN-13: 9781464208003