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Stealing the Countess (Mac McKenzie) by David Housewright
Cover Artist: Bay by Wendy/ImageBrief; Sky by SJ Travel photo and Video/Shutterstock
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250049667
Date: 31 May 2016 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Professional Violinist Paul Duclos literally begs PI Rushmore McKenzie to locate the love of his life, an antique violin known as the Countess Borromeo; she is worth four million dollars. It was stolen from a bed and breakfast (B&B) in Bayfield, Wisconsin. While visiting this tiny, picturesque town on Lake Superior, McKenzie learns that some very dangerous criminals are also looking for this famous violin. They begin murdering anyone who gets in their way of stealing the countess.

How does David Housewright do it? How does he continue writing consecutive novels that are always packed with mystery, tension, gun violence, emotional drama, and lots of pretty women? In Stealing the Countess, it is heartbreaking to believe people will murder because of a musical instrument constructed from some worn pieces of wood and string. The novel has many themes that include greed, lust, jealousy, deception, betrayal, and wounded pride. Lost love is also a major theme.

McKenzie is very much in love with his girlfriend, Nina Truhler, the beautiful, successful owner of the jazz nightclub, Rickie's. He loves her enough not to contemplate for one second having an affair with his drop-dead gorgeous friend, heavenly Elizabeth Petryk. She is a professional thief who is also searching for the Countess Borromeo; they accidentally meet at the same B&B. Furthermore, Paul Duclos must choose between the two loves in his life: his violin and his neglected wife, Renée Marie Peyroux.

Most of the novel's plot revolves around the small tourist town of Bayfield--the kind of community I detest because everyone knows everyone else's business. The townspeople, especially the police officers, resent McKenzie's presence. It's the type of community resembling those found in horror novels such as Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives. Stealing the Countess begins as a sweet, cozy mystery but quickly escalates into a violent thriller when one of the supporting characters is shot by a sniper.

I nearly cried as I waited to learn whether or not this character survived. Very few writers have the gift to make me teary-eyed with their writing style. David Housewright is one of them. (I'll never forget how I cried while reading the events that transpired during the sinking of the Titanic in Danielle Steel's No Greater Love.) In his plots, Housewright always uses a diverse assortment of realistic characters that range from sweet to sick. The novel's greatest shock comes when the villain behind the sniper shootings is finally revealed.

Nina Truhler likes peppermint schnapps in her hot cocoa; I must try this. Normally, I put a shot of coconut rum or Kahlua in mine. I always learn something new when reading a Rushmore McKenzie novel. If you like listening to amateur bands in crowded beer taverns, boat excursions on warm summer nights, small town police officers who are jerks, and mobsters who say, "I own this town," then you'll enjoy David Housewright's Stealing the Countess. I can't wait for the next novel in the series; perhaps McKenzie and Nina will finally get married.

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