Reviewer Wally Wood: Wally is a a professional writer and a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He holds a master's degree in creative writing from the City University of New York as well as a bachelor's degree from Columbia University where he majored in philosophy. As a volunteer, he has taught writing in men's state prisons and to middle-school students in his local library.
His first novel, Getting Oriented: A Novel About Japan received positive reviews even from people who do not know him. As a ghost-writer, he has written 19 business books, all published by commercial publishers. He has recently published The Girl in the Photo which is currently available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a trade paperback or Kindle download.
Author: Jack McCormac
Jack McCormac's sketching detective series has an interesting framework. The puzzle is based on working out the solution to logic problem like the following:
"A train is running between Detroit and Chicago with three businessmen on board: Smith, Jones, and Robinson. The train has three crewmen, a brakeman, a fireman, and an engineer. Their names are also Smith, Jones, and Robinson, but we don't know which one is which. From the following information, we would like to establish the engineer's name:
1. Mr. Robinson lives in Detroit.
2. The brakeman lives in a town called Midway, which is halfway between Detroit and Chicago.
3. Mr. Jones earns $80,000 per year. ....etc."
The book's narrator, 32-year-old Jack MacKay, shows how by sketching the facts given it is possible to learn the engineer's name. And apparently in an earlier book (this seems to be the fifth in the series), the narrator so impressed the town's chief of police, Fat Joe, with his analytical prowess that the chief calls on him regularly to help solve cases. Unfortunately that earlier book involved strippers and although Jack had been entirely innocent of hanky-panky, his feisty, red-headed wife Fiona has moved out of their home and is living with her brother.
The mystery involves a neighbor's death. Someone has bashed wealthy Sam Campbell's head in with a golf club, and Fat Joe needs help. In short order, MacKay and Fiona (who, however angry she is with MacKay, is willing to detect with him) have discovered that Sam was wealthy because he used his private detective business for blackmail and has not one but two secret rooms under his house, both if which they find but the police do not.
The Sketching Detective is set somewhere in the south and McCormac fills out the story with information about Scotland, golf, and MacKay's attempts to woo Fiona back into their house. Unfortunately, McCormac's dialogue is unconvincing needed editing. Here is a typical sample as it appears in the book:
"Fiona," I said, "perhaps I was wrong in letting Rhonda sit on my lap. But you must realize that sitting on the laps of as many male customers as possible and kissing them (I made up this last part.) is part of her job a Sakes Alive. Surely you wouldn't leave me just because this one girl sat on my lap at a night club, would you?"
Fiona would, and even though she is presented as a 29-year-old woman I found her immature and irritating. It made me wonder what MacKay saw in her, other than her red hair and enchanting freckles. As it turns out, despite MacKay's sketching and logic, he identifies the wrong person as the murderer. Fortunately Fat Joe, the police chief, does determine the right one—a person Fiona had identified. By the end of the book, the murders are solved (a second murder takes place so far offstage I missed on my first reading) and Fiona and MacKay are talking about children's names: Heather, Fiona, Mora, Angus, Sandy, Fergus.