Struggling Los Angeles mystery Guy Davitt is abruptly woken in the middle of the night by friend and fellow “third-tier” writer, Jax Thornton III. Jax is convinced that the deaths of two famous mystery authors are not coincidental—and they’re definitely not accidental, as reported.
Though Connor Alba, the protagonist that Davitt created in a series of novels, never brought him fame for fortune, at least Guy didn’t buy his way into the literary community like Jax did. Since Jax doesn’t have much talent, his writing career has been successfully financed by his wealthy family. Initially, Guy thinks that this is a just a premise for another one of Jax’s ill-conceived novels, and he isn’t persuaded by these “coincidental” events—that is, until Jax suddenly winds up dead. Could he have been on to something? Was his death an accident or a successful attempt to shut him up?
Guy feels compelled to look into these deaths. It’s the least he can do for his friend, and hopefully he’ll be able to reassure himself that they were, in fact, unrelated. When he bounces his ideas off a Mystery Writers’ chatroom, he receives a cryptic message from an unknown member. Later, fellow mystery writer Frances Whiting appears at his door holding a gun. Now that’s enough to scare him. Frances then reveals that she was almost another victim. Together, they desperately try to find the killer before another author winds up dead.
Sleuth Slayer is a smart and intriguing thriller by father and son writing team Jeffrey B. Burton and Bruce W. Burton. The authors build a solid plot instead of relying on morbid details to hold readers’ interest. Yes, they do tease their readers a bit, which—along with the rapid pace and the interesting chain of events—kept me anticipating each page.
I found the book difficult to put down, even though I was confident that I had it all figured out early on. But let me just say that details are crucial, and I was hit with a big surprise at the very end of the novel. In fact, I may even re-read it, just to see if should have been able to solve the mystery sooner, before the authors smacked me in the face.
Sleuth Slayer is a must-read for those who love contemporary crime novels. The fictional Guy Davitt may be only third-tier, but the Burtons definitely are not.