Murder on the Front Nine
By: Steve McMillen
Reviewed by: Georgia Rindler
When Mickke David MacCandlish, aka Mickke D retired, he envisioned spending his time playing golf. The Grand Strand of South Carolina has been called the golf mecca of the world and he intended on taking full advantage of his location. But being divorced three times put a strain on his bank account. So he also runs a landscape business, has a real estate company and teaches golf on the side. Unfortunately, his golf game has taken a back seat to these other ventures.
Mickke D graduated from Ohio State with a degree in landscape architecture. After four years of ROTC he went directly into the army and spent time in Colombia and Panama. He finished his tour of duty at Fort Bragg, North Carolina as an Investigative Officer. That is where he met the guys who are the driving force of this story. “By the Book” Barry Green, Bill “Tank” Cutter, Ted “The Reverend” DeShort, and Mickke D became good friends and golf partners during their time together. Barry, Bill, and Ted started a business called SIL (Special Investigations Limited) when their tour of duty was over.
After a golfer is murdered at a nearby course, Mickke D gets an unexpected phone call from Bill. The guys from SIL are coming to the area and would like to get together to play some golf and catch up. It had been almost fifteen years since he’d heard from any of them. He wonders how they knew he moved to Myrtle Beach and how they got his cell phone number. His military training clicks in and he becomes suspicious. He pulls some background information on SIL, located in Culpepper, Virginia. What he finds is very limited and hush-hush. They’ve done work for the CIA, NSA, and FBI, and have connections in high places. The business investigates cases that need an independent contractor to do the dirty work and keep important names out of the public eye. The gentleman murdered on the golf course was a retired government employee working as a consultant to a United States senator from North Carolina. Could there be a connection between the two?
Mickke D’s instincts were correct and the visit from his old army buddies is not a social visit. SIL wants to hire him to do some legwork. The consultant, Trevor Byers, was looking into offshore drilling along the coast. The senator chairs some very influential committees in Washington and there is a possibility that may be why Byers was shot. All of the suspects are avid golfers and could be coming to play in the World Amateur in a couple of weeks. Since Mickke D is in the middle of the golf scene he may be able to get close to them without putting himself in any danger.
The thought of getting back into the investigative business raises his excitement level and he agrees. What could go wrong? It’s not like he is actually going to go after the killer and he’s known Barry, Bill and Ted for decades. The offer seems foolproof.
What follows is anything but foolproof. Mickke D finds himself in a position where he has to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys, and stay alive while doing it. The story involves political corruption, assassinations, and a Columbian drug cartel. A treasure hunt is thrown in to round out the adventure.
Steve McMillen was born and raised in Lancaster, Ohio and now lives near the ocean in South Carolina. An army veteran, he is a licensed real estate agent who enjoys playing golf. McMillen and the main character seem to have a lot in common. This lends credibility to many of the details in the story. Murder on the Front Nine is the first in the Grand Strand Mystery series; followed by Cougars at the Beach and Death on Mt. Pleasant. All three can be found in the mystery section of the library; MYS MCM.
By: Zachary Bartels
Reviewed by: Georgia Rindler
Brian Parker Saint is on his way to fame and fortune. Heralding from a family of ministers, he moved on from the church of his father and grandfather. Saint has a mega-church in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is wrapping up a major book deal associated with national TV program. This will make him a star. But there is the problem of the assault charge leveled against him. In order to keep that out of the media he must agree to work with the Grand Rapids police department on a series of crimes. All seem to have a connection to Satanism and the judge agrees the good pastor could be of some help in the cases. This is not something Saint wants to do, but on the advice of his lawyer he agrees.
Reverend Saint is a TV evangelist, not an expert in theology. When asked a religious question he will excuse himself and do a google search. He figures he can “wing it” and bluff his way through the next couple of days until the real detectives solve the mysteries. But Detective Paul Ketcham is no pushover. He expects Saint in his office by 8:00 a.m. each morning and tells him to clear his calendar for the next two weeks.
Soon after his consulting services begin, three Jesuit priests appear at the home of Saint. He is instructed not to let Detective Ketcham know about their existence. The trio is not forthcoming as to why the Vatican has sent them. To ensure he cooperates and provides any information he obtains through his temporary assignment, they approach him with a bribe. The good pastor has been successful so far by telling people what they want to hear. But with these Vatican operatives, that will not be so easy. Father Michael, Father Xavier, and Father Ignatius are relentless and seem to know their stuff. Saint comes to the conclusion they may be of some help to him. He is still not sure he can totally trust them, but these cases involve satanic rituals and Saint is out of his league. The strange occult symbols on mutilated corpses are beginning to scare him. And when threats come to his personal phone number and eventually his home, he’s willing to stick close to the true clergy members.
Playing Saint involves a couple of storylines that are intertwined. The entertaining part is figuring out how they are related. The serial killer’s mindset surfaces, but the reader does not know who it is, or if it is one of the characters already introduced. A seed of doubt is planted if the demonic threat is real or imagined. Bartels writes an intriguing story, pulling the reader into solving the mystery of a serial killer.
Before picking up the book, I was advised there is a bit of a surprise ending. I will include that spoiler with this review as it made me more aware of details while reading. Playing Saint is available in large print and can be found in that section of the library; LP BAR.