Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Fractures / Mike Markel

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Mystery/Police Procedural

Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: NO  Smashwords: NO  Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Mike Markel teaches writing at Boise State University. In addition to the Seagate and Miner Mystery series (this is the fifth in that series with a sixth, The Reveal, coming soon) he has written eight non-fiction books on writing and numerous articles for various publications.

For more, visit the author’s website.


“The fracking boom in eastern Montana has minted a handful of new millionaires and one billionaire: Lee Rossman, the president of Rossman Mining and the leading philanthropist in the small city of Rawlings. Rossman is the last person Detectives Seagate and Miner expected to discover dead in the alley next to a strip club. Later, when Lee's son is found out at the rigs, with significant internal injuries, numerous broken bones, and a belly full of fracking liquid, the detectives know the two crimes are related but can't figure out how. In their toughest case yet, Seagate and Miner try to solve a mystery awash in enormous fortunes, thwarted ambitions, and grudges both old and new.”


What does it take to write a mystery series with legs? The plot of each individual story has to be good, but just as (maybe more) important is a solid foundation among the recurring characters. As I’ve read and reviewed previous books in the Seagate and Miner series I’m always struck by how good these characters are. Karen Seagate, a recovering alcoholic with lots of life experience (and more than her share of past mistakes to live down) stands in perfect contrast to her partner, Ryan Miner, a goody two-shoes, Mormon family man. They could easily clash, but instead form a perfect partnership with their differences making the team that much stronger. It seems I can’t rave about them enough. J There are also subsidiary characters, primarily the police chief and a district attorney, both of them strengthening that strong foundation.

Reflecting on past books in the series, much of the plot could have taken place almost anywhere with only a minor few changes. What sets Fractures apart from the others is that it couldn’t have. Set against the backdrop of fracking, a controversial procedure to extract oil and gas from the ground, this story could only happen in a few specific places, one of them Eastern Montana where Seagate and Miner are based. Proponents of the procedure point to the immense positive economic impact and opponents counter with concerns around increased seismic activity and environmental impact. The stakes are high and makes it an excellent and credible backdrop for a murder mystery. Markel has another winner on his hands.


While part of a series, each book in this series can be read as a standalone.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars


Maria said...

What is the first book in the series, please?

BooksAndPals said...


It is one of the two I haven't read. :)

The possibilities are Deviations or Big Sick Heart. I'm going to guess Big Sick Heart based on the blurb. Specifically for BSH it talks about her "new partner" while in the description for Deviations it just refers to "her partner, Ryan."

After those two I think the order is Three-Ways, The Broken Saint, and Fractures last. That's definitely the order I read them and reading them as stand alone wasn't an issue for me although I suspect there is a lot of non-critical backstory established in the first one that would be interesting.

Unknown said...

I read Three Ways before I found out Big Sick Heart was the first book. It didn't really matter though, each one has its own story. Great series

Unknown said...

Sounds fabulous!

Linda Lee Williams said...

This novel sounds both fascinating and mysterious. It also involves a subject near and dear to this Coloradan's heart: Fracking. The title, I iImagine, is an analogy between the industry and other earth-shattering events taking place in the book...

Mike Markel said...

Thanks, Al, for the generous review. Because you're a rigorous reader, it means a lot to me.

Here are the books in the series:
1. Big Sick Heart
2. Deviations
3. The Broken Saint
4. Three-Ways
5. Fractures

Again, Al, I appreciate it.

Jackie Wegr said...

Oh! I love Mike Markel"s books. And I adore Karen Seagate. I fell in love with her when she got home from work and called,"Honey, I'm home!" to a bottle of bourbon. Great line! Just perfect.

Effrosyni Moschoudi said...

This sounds wonderful, a terrific review! Well done Al, and of course, Mike Markel. I have three books in this series in my TBR list and think I'll read them in one go to get the full benefit. The characters sound perfectly fleshed out, I can't wait to get to know them.

Mary Smith said...

Great review, Mike.

Maria said...

Thanks. I'm sure I can find it now.