Tahoe Blue Fire
Thriller Press 2015
Kindle $3.99 Trade paper $16.95
Todd Borg creates multifaceted puzzles in his Owen McKenna mystery series, but he also knows how to scare the pants off you. The first chapter of Tahoe Blue Fire begins with a description of “…single-purpose machines built like tall, square locomotives, big boxy monsters that prowled the highways at night.” These giant, diesel-fired snow blowers with twin engines producing nearly 2,000 horsepower have massive, sharp blades designed to cut snow as deep as 12 feet. Imagine a train-size snow blower as a murder weapon and have a good idea how the story starts.
This thirteenth installment of the series could be the best of all. The book evokes different emotions and combines erudition, intrigue, violence and sorrow. Ex-San Francisco PD detective-turned Lake Tahoe PI, Owen McKenna, hits the ground running searching for someone who has killed at least three people—apparently at random—and now has his sights on McKenna. The first half of the book crackles with suspense and impending doom. It’s almost (but not quite) mild compared to the book’s scary concluding scenes.
It’s a layered plot in which Owen must first determine connections between the victims, then search for a motive. Neither come easily. Without giving away too much of the plot, the solution involves the Italian Renaissance, well-known 1950s and 1960s movie icons and traumatic brain injury (TBI), a condition suffered by one of the book’s several memorable characters.
Ex-pro football player Adam Simms is the victim of TBI, the fancy term for having his brains scrambled during a career marked by hundreds of collisions. Simms is a semi-invalid, mentally weak, physically still strong. He works to overcome frequent seizures by writing poetry. Simms plays several roles in the Tahoe story. Continue Reading →