by Jude Hardin

Oceanview Publishing, $24.95, 240 pages

Nicholas Colt is a former blues guitarist-turned private investigator only half a step ahead of the repo man when he is hired by Leitha Ryan to find her sister Brittney, a 15-year-old runaway. Colt accepts the case, hoping for an easy few days of work for an actual paying client. Things quickly become complicated when Colt discovers the secret behind Brittney’s disappearance, one which not only puts Brittney and Leitha in danger but also places Colt directly in the line of fire.

In this thoroughly enjoyable debut novel Jude Hardin has put a fresh spin on the typical hard-nosed detective novel. Hardin writes with a casual ease, skillfully spinning his tale with a nice pace that keeps the reader engaged. But it is through his character Nicholas Colt that Hardin hooks the reader and takes them along as Colt’s personal and professional life collide. Colt is tough but Hardin infuses him with an underlying sense of hope, warmth and wry humor under the hard surface that pulls the reader in and keeps them engaged from start to finish and delighted to be along for the ride.

Reviewed by Barbara Cothern