Thursday, August 25, 2011

As the Crow Dies (Ken Casper)

As the Crow Dies is Ken Casper’s debut novel, and it’s a good one. The title is a play on the phrase, “as the crow flies,” which of course generally means in a straight line. But the story Casper has written definitely doesn’t develop in a straight line. It also reflects the defining incident around which the story revolves.
Jason Crow – a Vietnam War double amputee – returns to Coyote Springs, TX, after being fitted with prosthetics that replace the two legs he lost during the Tet offensive in Vietnam. He is walking without crutches for first time, only to find out his father is dead.
Local police have investigated the death, and head detective and former football teammate Clyde Burker have all but written it off as a suicide. However, Jason believes his father, Theodore Crow, was murdered and sets about trying to find out exactly what happened.
Along with his best friend Zack Merchant and his girlfriend Michiko Clark, Jason assembles the facts and educated guesses and conjecture to set his mind at ease and find the guilty party.
Who wanted his father dead? Surely it wasn’t business partner George Elsbeth or his son Aaron. Could it have been Brayton Spites – Ted’s fierce competitor – or his redneck son, Bubba? Or was it the vangelical Church of the Sacrificial Lamb, which holds sway upon his mother?
Did his fraternal twin brother Leon have anything to do with it? What was the purpose? To gain control of the Crow’s Nest Steakhouse? Or the family ranch?
Skeletons rattle in the closet as secrets are revealed, until finally, everything starts to converge and things move fast, hurtling to a climactic face-off between friends.
I found a couple of irritating wrong-word choices – composed/comprised, insured/ensured – that should have been caught. But that’s just me.
As the Crow Dies (2011)
Ken Casper
Bell Bridge Books (Paperback, $14.95 list)
ISBN-13: 978-1611940084

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