Friday, January 11, 2013

Done: "Dead in the Water" by Ted Wood

Done: Dead in the Water by Ted Wood, 1983, 068417958x.

A couple weeks ago someone posted a Friday forgotten book from this mystery series by Ted Wood.  It must have been Bill Crider who reviewed the book because I am his dancing book review monkey and placed a hold.

Reid Bennett does a reverse migration during the Vietnam War.  He heads South from Ontario, joins the Marines and serves in the infantry in Vietnam.  Bennett then joins the Toronto police.  A few years later Reid is off-duty and stops some bikers mid-gang rape. Bennett kills a couple of the bikers.  Bennett is tried and acquitted but his wife leaves him, his job turns to crap, and the public hates him.

You learn that in the first two pages.  Bennett has taken a Chief of Police job in Murphy's Harbor - a lake resort town North of Toronto.  Bennett is the whole department plus a disabled WWII veteran who handles the phones and some administrative stuff.  But, this being a 1983 book, the veteran, Murphy, is crippled.

Murphy gets a late night call about a boating accident.  Murphy rolls out of bed to learn that a couple teenagers collided with an drifting boat.  Murphy identifies the boat as owned by a local owner of a cabin resort and a WWII buddy of Murphy.  The resort owner is missing and Bennett meets a good looking gal from NYC who is fretting and worried that the two men she is there with are missing.

NYC Gal will not give information.  Bennett gets called for a body.  The body is one of the missing men and was hired as a bodyguard.  Things happen.  Bennett has a superdog who instantly responds to training.  NYC Gal gives Bennett a sealed envelope.  NYC Gal takes off.  Bennett is pulled in different directions - he is one guy with a big territory.  Teens call Bennett "killer".  Bennett's cop boat is stolen.  Bennett finds missing WWII vet dead in the stolen cop boat.

Bodyguard's company sends a guy up.  Guy helps out a little.  NYC Gal tries to get sealed enveope back.  WWII Vet was selling dope.  Blah blah blah.  Bennett tussles with gangsters and kills a couple more people on the way to resolution.

1.  As a mystery this is not so great.  There are sections where Bennett seems to suddenly have changed location and Woods does not make some dialogue and description very clear.  The explanations of motive and opportunity are not so believable.
2. I did enjoy the book.  Bennett is interesting.  He does not like his job.  He may be a Chief but this is not prestigious position and is a big step down from being a big city police detective working big city crimes.  He's been there less than a year when the book starts.
3. Bennett does not much like the people of Murphy's Harbor.  Most tourists are drunk.  Most resort workers are drunk.  The teenagers are teenagers - they are rude and like to press emotional buttons.  Local adults are self-important and sometimes creepy.
4.  Bennett is a combat veteran with issues.  Reminders of combat come back with certain sounds and smells.  Bennett became a killer in the service and knows this separates him from other people.
5.  The dog was alright but not too believable.
6.  Bennett solves everything in the end but the gangsters "introduced" at the end were paper thin and obstacles to give Bennett problems to solve.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Gerard-I won't be doing this for the next six weeks. Could you pass this link on to Todd Mason. He'll make sure it's on there.

Rick Robinson said...

Reading your clipped, very negative review, I began to wonder why you even finished the book. Then I see in your brief listing at the end that you say you "liked the book". Really? The review doesn't read that way at all.

Evan Lewis said...

Great job, Gerard. I like a reviewer who doesn't hesitate to call "Blah blah blah" when he sees it.