Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Thriller/Crime Fiction/Detective Mystery
Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words
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“Jeni Decker lives on a farm in rural Michigan with a bunch of animals (human and canine), and her albino frog, Humbert Humbert.”
Decker has written multiple books, both traditionally and independently published.
“Dex Morneau is a self-described long-haired heap of sinew and gristle, with too few clients and too much drinking time on his hands. He's comfortable in his own skin, uncomfortable around anyone else's - tired, apathetic, and generally resigned to both, due to his propensity toward circumspection.
He supplements his private detective work with process serving, and is none too happy about that fact. Six months ago, Carla Danning sauntered into his life, all tits, temperament and testicular torture, and she's been an invective-spewing shackle around his tackle ever since.”
This is the first book in the Dex Morneau series. Book two is also available.
Rigor Mortis is both just like other mystery novels featuring a private investigator and his trusty sidekick, and completely unlike those same books. The primary mystery is finding a missing person for a client with all the investigation and questioning of people, consideration of motives others might have to do the person harm, and blah, blah, blah. You know the formula. There are some interesting twists in that story line and it is well done, but it isn’t what sets Rigor Mortis apart from the pack.
That Dex Morneau’s “trusty sidekick” just showed up one day and convinced him to give her a job, yet remains a mystery to him and, from what he’s able to find, has no history prior to starting work, is the mystery that drew me in the most.
And then there is Decker’s writing style. In many ways it feels like a classic hard-boiled detective, if a touch more literate. But it is a unique voice. Sometimes it threw me with a word choice, as in the very first line, “The human body demurring to death is never pretty.” I had to read that again and then spend a few seconds pondering the use of demurring. A perfectly good word for what is being described, but hardly typical. Other times, these same word choices resulted in lines that left me slack jawed. One example is in Decker’s book blurb, lifted directly from Morneau’s description of Danning near the beginning, where he describes her as having, “sauntered into his life, all tits, temperament and testicular torture, and she's been an invective-spewing shackle around his tackle ever since.” I know, alliteration and rhyme are nothing new, but are seldom done that well. Another example comes later when Morneau says this about Danning:
Carla’s one of those “it’s written all over her face” kind of gals. I’m guessing she’s horrible at poker. Expressive is the word that comes to mind. She doesn’t seem to have an internal edit button. You know, that thing that keeps the average person from dropping the f-bomb at a PTA function… or the Vatican.
Rigor Mortis had me alternating between laughing, trying to fit the puzzle pieces together, and muttering to myself, “Damn, that was a great line.”
Some adult language.
A small number of typos.
Rating: ***** Five stars