Dead Silver

by Neil McMahon

There are many reasons to pick up and read DEAD SILVER: author
Neil McMahon’s dead-on, masterful plotting; the very
occasional side trails his narrative takes, for comic relief; his
true-to-life characters; and his colorful turns of phrase. There
are others, but I don’t want to spoil all the fun of finding
them yourself.

DEAD SILVER is the second of McMahon’s Hugh Davoren novels,
the successor to 2007’s wonderful LONE CREEK. Set in rustic
Helena, Montana, the novel opens with Davoren still troubled by the
events that took place at the conclusion of the first book, though
for the most part he has moved beyond them. A local death, however,
draws him into the orbit of a former acquaintance. Professor John
Callister was a figure of local legend, respected for the most part
but tarnished by being a suspect in the double murder several years
ago of his wife and her lover. Callister, never charged in the
case, had lived his life quietly before dying in a managed care
facility. His daughter, Renee, has returned to Helena for the
funeral and to make decisions about her father’s home, which
has fallen into disarray under the dubious caretaking of a distant
relative. Renee hires Davoren and Madbird, Davoren’s laboring
partner, to undertake repairs and restoration to the property.

However, Renee also wants Davoren to launch a clandestine
investigation into the murders of her stepmother and her paramour
to irrevocably clear her father’s name. The impetus for Renee
is her discovery of a cache of pornographic pictures (with her
stepmother in a starring role) and a distinctive antique earring.
As Davoren is drawn into his investigation, he discovers no lack of
suspects, ranging from the owner of a defunct silver mine who might
possibly be motivated by revenge to a father and son team of
lowlife squatters.

The trail also slowly dovetails into a concern of
Madbird’s, whose wild child niece, Darcy, is involved in an
adulterous affair with a state representative whose past may not be
as pristine as he presents it to be. Meanwhile, Davoren finds his
involvement with Renee becoming more and more complicated by the
intermingling of their professional and developing personal
relationship, even as his investigation draws them both deeper into

DEAD SILVER will solidify Neil McMahon’s position on the
must-read list of any reader already familiar with LONE CREEK. This
guy has the goods, in spades and then some. Given that he leaves
one issue (possibly two) unresolved at the conclusion, the
follow-up hopefully will be coming sooner rather than later.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 11, 2011

Dead Silver
by Neil McMahon

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0061340774
  • ISBN-13: 9780061340772