Murdock Rocks Sedona: A Matt Murdock Murder Mystery
By: Robert J. Ray
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication Date: October 2015
Reviewed by: Anita Lock
Date: November 2015
After their taxing adventures in Taos (Murdock Tackles Taos), Helene Steinbeck comes to Sedona Landing not just for a three-week writing workshop, but also for some R & R and an opportunity for her and Matt to mend their now fragile relationship. Helene's idealistic Arizona vacation falls flat when she meets Axel Ackermann, a billionaire and one of a handful of investors planning to buy the historic hotel. Setting his eyes on Helene, Ackermann hires her to find the person who is killing off his investors. Helene agrees to the deal only if Murdock's name is included in the contract since she insists that they work as a team.
But Helene's concept of teamwork goes out the window when Steve and Connie, local cops, join the investigation after a third investor is found dead. While there is periodic head butting between Murdock and snarky Steve and emotional and sexual tension between Murdock and Helene—especially when Murdock pairs up with Connie during investigations, Ackermann keeps getting pressure from various sources to give up his plans for Sedona Landing. Amid all of the tension, sinister plans are lurking behind the scenes—twisted, unimaginable evil plans, and with a little help from Homer's Odyssey.
Unique to Ray's mysteries is Matt Murdock's hard-boiled persona. Murdock carries all the qualities of refined sleuth who always has a "hunch" and a stick-to-itiveness when others doubt that his clues will amount to anything. And perfectly complementing his gruff traits, Ray has created his equal—Helene Steinbeck. Although centering on these featured characters, Ray incorporates a host of colorful characters, especially his villains who are not always readily identifiable. That said, Ray does a stellar job of throwing in red herrings just at the right time, which keeps his audience on their toes in their own sleuthing pursuits.
Ray's writing style is also unique. Focusing much of his plot on tight conversations, he uses a wonderful blend of directed, misdirected, and modulated dialogues that weave in and out of each chapter. In this particular book, Ray employs a Vonnegut-flair to his third person narrative—reminiscent of Slaughterhouse-Five. Not giving away any spoilers, there is indeed a war theme, which is very critical to the storyline's apex.
Combining all of the above-mentioned literary tools, Ray's plot runs smoothly from one chapter to the next. Frequently closing with cliffhangers, Ray's short chapters are grouped into five sections labeled in days. Alternating character scenes throughout, Ray deftly orchestrates all of these elements into one amazing performance to keep his audience absolutely captivated from beginning to end.
Quill says: Murdock Rocks Sedona is bound to be both a best seller and an all-time classic!