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    Review of THE BLUE CHEER by Ed Lynskey

    PointBlank Press, February 2007

    Private investigator Frank Johnson has decided to leave behind his life as a detective and moved into a mountain cabin in West Virginia. But when he spots what can only be a stinger missile shoot down a drone, he realizes that something is very wrong--even in this rural spot. Calling in the police seems like a reasonable approach, especially after he's slugged when he finds the fired stinger missile launcher, but the police accuse him of drinking and, when he presses forward, they bust him for hitchhiking and beat him up.

    Frank is uncertain what to do next, but when his friend's wife is murdered, he has to believe there is a connection. For the pay of $1, he picks up his detecting habits and resolves to help 'Old Man' discover who killed his wife. And if there is a connection to a domestic terrorism group, Frank definitely wants to get that, too. Stinger missiles may not be the latest technology, but they would be plenty to knock down half the jets flying in America. One clue that Frank unveils is the name 'Blue Cheer,' which does not, apparently, refer to the old band.

    Frank's problems are compounded when his nere-do-well cousin breaks out of a maximum security prison and Frank is identified by the prison authorities as the most likely assistant. Driving down to answer those questions sounds straightforward enough, but it lands Frank in a world of trouble.

    Author Ed Lynskey (see more reviews of novels by Lynskey) continues his Frank Johnson series with another dark thriller. Where Frank goes, violence is certain to follow--with Frank on both the dealing and receiving end. The enemy, this time, is a mysterious hate group--motivated by some sort of rage and attracting those who would once have found the Ku Klux Klan to be their home.

    I suspect that Lynskey was firmly tongue-in-cheek when he decided to make atheism be the centerpiece in the philsosophy of the hate group--both because hate groups generally rely on angry gods to justify their hatred and because the appeal of atheism to know-nothings like the Blue Cheer's members is hard to imagine. It does, though, allow the reader to fill in his/her own brand of fear. I would also have liked to understand better exactly what the Blue Cheer intended to do, if they hadn't run into Johnson.

    Fans of hard-boiled fiction will definitely want to get their hands on Lynskey's latest. Frank Johnson is the perfect hard-drinking, world-weary, fast-shooting detective--down to his well-buried heart. Lynskey's sparse prose drives the story forward as fast as does his character. Finally, Lynskey's small ode to Viet Nam veterans is also welcome in a world where increasingly few remember the great conflict that so divided the nation. THE BLUE CHEER is definitely an enjoyable read--and was darned hard to put down once I got started.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 12/30/06

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