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The Blood Red Indian Summer (Berger and Mitry) by David Handler
Cover Artist: Hugh Syme
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312648350
Date: 11 October 2011 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Deputy Superintendent Buck Mitry (a.k.a. the Deacon) of the Connecticut State Police is sullen and withdrawn after his quadruple heart bypass surgery; he is recovering at the home of his daughter, Resident Trooper Des Mitry. Film critic Mitch Berger is gobbling doughnuts; he is nervous about his Jewish parents meeting his African-American fiancée Des. She is becoming entangled in the soap-opera life of bad boy pro football player Tyrone "Da Beast" Grantham who has recently moved into one of Dorset's secluded neighborhoods that is both eccentric and racist. Tyrone's sister-in-law, Kinetra, is found half-drowned on Big Sister Island; she refuses to acknowledge that she was raped. Soon afterwards, two people are murdered on nearby White Sand Beach.

The sunsets at the wealthy, coastal village of Dorset, Connecticut, are blood red and the weather in October is unseasonably warm; boaters are enjoying an Indian Summer. In the novels' opening prologue, an unknown woman attempts to elude her rapist by diving into the ocean. The reader is then transported twenty-four hours back in time to when Des begins investigating racist complaints lodged against NFL superstar Tyrone Grantham who lives in a mansion in Turkey Neck. From this point onward, the novel is simply hilarious. Tyrone is the epitome of the professional athlete who is always getting in trouble for drug possession, drunken disorderly conduct and fathering countless children out of wedlock. He lives with numerous relatives, in-laws, hanger-ons and cling-ons.

Tyrone's mother is a former crack whore from Compton and his father-in-law is a horny, porn-addicted ex-con. The eccentricities, however, don't stop with Tyrone's family. Next door is a racist named Justy Bond who owns a failing auto dealership. He's also a wife beater whose latest bimbo trophy wife, Bonita, is having an affair with his hunky son June. June is supposedly committed to art student Callie Kreutzer who enjoys painting in the nude. She slings paint using a technique best described as projectile vomiting. Callie lives in a dilapidated mansion, on the other side of Tyrone, with two elderly sisters and their brother-in-law, Winston Lash. The seventy-two-year-old Winston suffers from a rare disease, frontotemporal dementia, which causes him to lose all sexual inhibitions; sometimes he runs naked through the nearby woods.

There are other eccentric characters who are too numerous to mention here. Needless to say, this fast-paced novel has dark humor from front to back cover. It picks up momentum when the shocking murders occur. I was prepared to give the novel the highest rating without the murders; they were just a bonus in my opinion. What I originally thought would be a hilarious cozy turned into a bloody crime drama. However, there is a lot of emotionally charged sentimentality that dispels any gloom that is brought about by the murders. The romance between Des and Mitch is touching. I admire Mitch because him and I share a love of classic films, especially horror. I had to do some research when he mentioned Mr. Sardonicus, a shocking horror film directed by William Castle and starring Oscar Homolka. I may have to purchase it from Amazon.com.

David Handler's cleverly written whodunit, The Blood Red Indian Summer, is a must read for fans of hilarious crime dramas. It is my first David Handler novel and, hopefully, won't be my last. I had no difficulty picking it up and diving headfirst into the Mitch Berger and Des Mitry series. I envy those who've been reading this series from the beginning. The Blood Red Indian Summer is a whirlwind of hilarity, mystery, crime drama, and romance. It is best described by a one-word expression that is often used by Mitch Berger's dad, Chat: "Sa-weet".

Other authors who are famous for their hilarious crime dramas are Douglas Corleone (Night on Fire), Brad Parks (Eyes of the Innocent) and Brian M. Wiprud (Ringer: A Crime Novel).

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