Dead Red (Raymond Donne)
by Tim O'Mara
Cover Artist: Photo by Ilina Simeonova/Trevillion Images; Textured paper by Valentin Agapov/Shutterstock
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250058638
Date: 20 January 2015 List Price $26.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Dead Red is Tim O'Mara's most violent mystery yet; it flows with blood. This time, Raymond Donne (pronounced "done") is not investigating the disappearance or death of a student, as he did in Sacrifice Fly and Crooked Numbers. He is attempting to learn who killed a Marine, Ricky Torres, who had just returned from Iraq and was now driving for his cousin's cab company. Torres was also doing some PI work for Jack Knight. The mystery is a complex one, involving gun smuggling, crooked politicians, and prostitution. You may want to take a bath after reading this one.
O'Mara's latest installment is rich with three-dimensional characters that are good and evil, rich and poor, and young and old. Donne rubs shoulders with his cop buddies at his favorite cop bar, The LineUp, and rich celebrities at a charity gala event at The Top of the Strand. At his side is Allison Rogers who learns the difficulty of drawing the line between Girlfriend Allison and Reporter Allison. Computer geek Edward O'Brien returns as Donne's friend who, along with Allison, finds himself the target of an assassin. He learns (regretfully?) firsthand the dangers of being a PI.
Torres may have been killed on the first page of the mystery, but readers learn more about his troubled past in Iraq as the plot progresses. He was a mentally disturbed young man who became disillusioned with serving his country after witnessing extreme violence. Donne is also the victim of a violent past in which he fell, injuring his knees; the boy he was chasing was killed. A physical fitness trainer, Muscles Marinaccio, has been aiding in Donne's physical rehabilitation but he also needs mental therapy. Donne remains angry at God; Jack Knight shares his belief that a loving god wouldn't allow natural disasters and the cancer deaths of children.
The mystery in Dead Red is a high-caliber one. Who shot Ricky Torres and why? The answers aren't revealed until nearly the very end. In the meantime, there are many corpses that Donne stumbles upon, keeping the novel fast paced. Please don't misunderstand me; there are also a lot of other elements that keep the pages turning. There is a lot of human drama, including family drama (Ray's sister Rachael and his uncle, Chief Raymond Donne, weigh heavily into the plot), and baby drama (someone's going to have a baby). There is love and romance, but there is also betrayal and deception. If a good mystery is your target, Dead Red is the one to shoot at; you can't miss.