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The 24th Letter    by Tom Lowe order for
24th Letter
by Tom Lowe
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Tom Lowe's second novel, The 24th Letter, is so good that it ought to be included as required reading on every adrenalin-addicted, mystery-thriller reader's must read list.

When the episodic, pedal-to-the-metal action begins, (now pardon the reviewer's cliché) time is running out for Charlie Williams as he sits on death row in a Florida prison. Having been arrested eleven years ago by Miami homicide cop Sean O'Brien, and then having been convicted of raping and murdering a young woman, Williams now has only 84 hours until he will be executed.

Then some important things suddenly happen: an unsavory ex-con is fatally shot outside a courthouse, but he makes a deathbed statement to a priest, and someone other than Williams is identified in that statement as the rapist and murderer. Then, even though the aforementioned homicide cop is no longer on the job, when he hears about the ex-con's statement, O'Brien is eager to stop Williams' execution, to win his release from prison, and to find the real criminal.

There are, however, several huge problems: The ex-con's deathbed statement has been committed to writing (and that is now missing), the priest (for some obvious reasons which cannot be mentioned here because of the reviewer's discretion) can say nothing about what was contained in the now missing and hidden statement; someone (or perhaps it is more than just one person) is hell-bent upon making sure the hapless Williams dies in prison; and - as noted above - (again pardon the reviewer's cliché) time is running out for the wrongly convicted Williams.

O'Brien, a complicated man with plenty of hard-earned experience, learns that 'timing is almost everything in life ... and death,' and now - (forgive another reviewer's cliché) racing against the clock - O'Brien will also learn that almost everything in life (and death) is complicated by mistakes, second chances, betrayals, and - most significantly - revelations.

Filled with lots of excitement, danger, and death, The 24th Letter is a first-rate thriller executed by a writer who definitely knows how to craft a superbly plotted adventure dominated by fascinating characters and provocative themes.

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