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Fifty Grand    by Adrian McKinty Amazon.com order for
Fifty Grand
by Adrian McKinty
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Henry Holt, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

With a tip of the hat to Peter Rozofsky at Detectives Beyond Borders, I have discovered another writer from across the Atlantic who deserves plenty of attention and praise. Adrian McKinty's latest novel, Fifty Grand, is a tour-de-force of mystery-suspense writing for a variety of reasons. Let me enumerate.

First, you've got to admire the border-crossing imagination of an Irish-born writer (born in Belfast, educated at Oxford, formerly a ten-year resident of Colorado, and now a resident of Melbourne, Australia) who offers up a novel in which a Cuban police officer (Detective Mercado) travels first to Mexico but then sets out to solve the mystery surrounding the death of her father (widely presumed to have been a traitorous defector from Havana) in the Rocky Mountains of the United States.

Second, there is nothing half-hearted about the plotting of Fifty Grand because you have all sorts of complications including (but not limited to) international espionage, illegal alien smuggling, political intrigue, bitter revenge tragedy, corruption in law enforcement, exploitation of laborers, and good old fashioned murder.

Third, where else but in a novel like Fifty Grand can you expect to see unflattering portraits of Hollywood expatriates (with some notable real-life names leading the list), a satirical swipe at Scientology, a slice-of-life portrayal of everyday life in Castro's Cuba, and cameo appearances by some surprising characters (includingódrum-roll, please - Raul Castro himself)?

Fourth, in addition to a plucky (an unfortunately hackneyed adjective but it is the only one that seems to fit here) female protagonist (Detective Mercado) who is a powerful and charming force, you have a damn good story in which family loyalties, personal principles, and political realities are on a collision course.

Finally, as noted earlier, this is my first (and a belated) encounter with the work of Adrian McKinty whose work includes Dead I Well May Be, The Dead Yard, Bloomsday Dead, and Hidden River; now, of course, those titles get added to my constantly growing must-read list of contemporary detective/mystery fiction.

So, the bottom line is this: Filled with suspense and excitement, Fifty Grand is worth every moment of a reader's attention. Don't miss it.

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