Two for the Money by Blair Howard

Two for the Money: A Harry Starke NovelTwo for the Money: A Harry Starke Novel by Blair Howard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Chattanooga private eye Harry Starke is one tough SOB, a man’s man. He has hard fists, hard muscles, and at least one hard organ, with which he seems to do most of his thinking. He is contacted by an old classmate he hadn’t heard from in years to come over on account of some emergency. By the time Harry gets there, the caller is dead. It turns out the victim was a fund manager and millions are missing. From there it looks like this is going to be a closed door mystery, with a fixed set of suspects all of whom had motive and opportunity. Then you find that the door isn’t so closed. The number of potential suspects quickly balloons.

Harry teams up with an old flame police detective to work the case. Almost immediately the hated but gorgeous anchorwoman who previously did a number on Harry now wants to work with him, too. As mentioned, Harry lets his organ make that decision. The storyline is pretty standard stuff. The police detective does the legal sorts of investigation while Harry works outside those inconvenient legal niceties. I won’t spoil the plot by going into it further. This book is all about style anyway. Harry must be one hunky stud since every “stunning” (a word used to describe almost everything in the book from scenery to women) woman wants to jump in bed with him. Several succeed.

The author has a real knack for description. He’s able to evoke a vivid picture of every character and the Chattanooga area’s many charms. There’s plenty of action. The violence is only beginning when the first murder victim is discovered. Fans of gunfights, fistfights, and broken bones will not be disappointed.

A big turnoff for me, though, was Starke’s character. Out of the blue he tortures one of the suspects, someone who isn’t even clearly a bad guy. I don’t like gratuitous cruelty and sadism, but it’s to be expected in mysteries to demonize the bad guys. When the main character does it, I have a hard time liking him. He also is supposedly in a relationship with a woman who is out of town, but that doesn’t stop him from bedding the bevy of beauties that besiege him. So he’s a sadist and a cheat. I came away thinking of him as just as much of a thug as the guys he beats up.

The reader is excellent. His rich voice and folksy, homespun accent is reminiscent of Andy Griffith. It has an authentic-sounding southern charm, although he can do a dead on east coast mobster accent just as well. He’s able to do the women’s voices without sounding squeaky or silly, too. He does read at an exceptionally leisurely pace, which is appropriate for the setting and character, but if that pace bothers you, I recommend doing what I did – turn up the speed on your Kindle. I’d never used that feature before but I’m sure I will in the future.

This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Blast.

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