Friday, January 20, 2012

Andy Straka’s “The Blue Hallelujah”

I read the opening pages of Andy Straka’s The Blue Hallelujah, and almost stopped reading. An elderly man is sitting in woods, watching children playing at a camp. And he is focused on one child in particular, a little girl. The sense of foreboding was so great that I knew he had evil intentions.

But I read on, and discovered this compelling novel was full of surprises. The Blue Hallelujah is not so much a police procedural mystery as it is a retired police procedural – the hero is Jerry Strickland, a retired officer in the Richmond, Va., police department.

The first surprise is that the little girl is Strickland’s granddaughter. The second is that the kidnaper is not what he seems, and has a very different kind of motive. The third is that this is a story with deep roots in the past. Strickland is a widower; his wife Rebecca died of cancer – in prison, and in prison for murder.

I kept trying to anticipate where Straka was going to take this story, and finally gave up. I simply went along for the sheer enjoyment of an exciting story about a crime that becomes intensely personal for man investigating it, so much so that he will risk everything.

Straka does this story well. He draws the characters in detail, and his distraught daughter and her estranged husband, and Strickland’s teenaged grandson, are all real and familiar people. None of them is overplayed – the author does each just right. He does the entire story just right, and there were plenty of opportunities to go astray. But he holds the story tightly to its main line of narrative action.

Straka, the author of several previous mystery novels, is one fine action/thriller./mystery writer. And The Blue Hallelujah is one fine mystery.

Related: Andy Straka’s web site.


David Rupert said...

Isnt that a great book, when you can just forget guessing and read for the pleasure?

S. Etole said...

Sounds both compelling and unnerving.

Sheila said...

I love a story that draws me in so deeply that I forget to think about where we're going.