Approximate word count: 70-80,000 words
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A father of two and grandfather of three, Rick Murcer caught the writing bug eight years ago. He found success with his first story, Herb’s Home Run, which was published in Writer’s Journal, and hasn’t looked back. Caribbean Moon is the first of his Manny Williams Thriller series, with two others published and the fourth in the works. He also has a short story available for your favorite eReader, Capital Murder, featuring Sophie Lee, Manny Williams’ partner in Caribbean Moon.
Manny Williams, a workaholic police detective for the Lansing, Michigan Police Department, is thrilled to be getting away for a Caribbean vacation with his wife Louise and some friends. After a fellow police officer’s wedding in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the group is planning to take it easy on a Caribbean cruise. All goes as planned until the dead bodies start showing up.
The latest description of Caribbean Moon on Amazon says it is “written in the tradition of Connelly, Patterson of old, and JA Konrath.” I was on the verge of writing this off as marketing hype; Murcer’s book is good, but not at the level of those three, nor, if you evaluate the words, is that claim being made. Then I realized that the statement does give a hint of what Murcer is aiming for and, in the JA Konrath comparison, is the hook to describe the qualities of this book.
Konrath’s Jack Daniels series is nominally a police procedural. The main character is a member of law enforcement whose goal is to solve a crime, typically one or more murders. Yet Konrath’s books have several elements that aren’t typical of the standard police procedural, all of which are shared by Caribbean Moon. The first of these is the case becomes much more personal than a normal police procedural when the detective (Jack Daniels or Manny Williams) is at risk after they determine that they or someone close to them is the likely next target of the murderer, who is almost always a serial killer. The murders are consistently grisly, yet described in a way that isn’t very explicit, giving horror fans the chance to let their mind run free while allowing those who are more squeamish to overlook the blood and gore. The last quality Murcer shares with Konrath is that, despite the seriousness of the crimes depicted, they both sprinkle humor, helping to keep the book (and the reader) from descending too far into the dark.
This is a formula that has worked well for both. Caribbean Moon is a worthy first novel and an excellent series introduction. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
No significant issues.
Rating: **** Four stars