Daily Review: Big Sick Heart by Mike Markel
February 8, 2018
Hang on to your hat! The lighting is so obviously waiting right there in the bottle.
Bad decisions have finally caught up with police detective Karen Seagate. Her drinking has destroyed her marriage and hurt her job performance, and the chief is looking for any excuse to fire her.
Still, she and her new partner, a young Mormon guy who seems to have arrived from another century or another planet, intend to track down whoever killed Arlen Hagerty, the corrupt leader of Soul Savers. Clawing his way to the top, Hagerty created plenty of enemies, including his wife, his mistress, his debate partner, the organization’s founder, and the politician he was blackmailing.
When Seagate causes a car crash that sends a young girl to Intensive Care, the chief thinks he finally has his opportunity. But even the chief can’t believe what Seagate does when she finally catches the killer.
Mike Markel as a storyteller is a really superior talent. The plot of his stories, quite apart from how well they are told, runs from quite adequate to good, or maybe even a little better than just good. “Big Sick Heart” is good to better than good, as a story. How well the story is told is however outstanding.
He tells his story with such apparent ease, even though there is no question in my mind that there was a lot of effort put into it. I don’t want to wax too rhapsodic, but his style is “organic.” To all appearances, he is a “natural.” He puts together a complex story, and the interaction between characters is full of psychological themes that run off in all directions, and yet it is so easy to read. Everything just flows together.
However having said that, so far at least, he isn’t turning out literature, but when, in whichever manner he chooses to go about it, he manages to come up with a really outstanding storyline, hang on to your hat! The lighting is so obviously waiting right there in the bottle.
Specifically, regarding Big Sick Heart: The story is very solid and well worth reading. One must bear in mind that this is a murder mystery, and it is perforce definitely dramatic here and there, but fortunately, drama or not, it doesn’t sink into melodrama. It immediately engages the reader and it doesn’t go all “thin” somewhere in the middle. It’s a bit of tear-jerker, and that’s OK because it is entirely believable, with an essentially down to earth plot, that doesn’t disappoint…particularly if one is looking for a nicely wrapped up story with a beginning, middle, and end.
All three are there, and they fit quite nicely. The story does follow the oft over repeated formula of lots of stories within the story, but even so, they are handled with consummate ease…not one of them sticks out as perhaps being nothing more than “filler.” To make it even better, the humor, if nearly always cynical, is unfailingly subtle and actually funny. Of course, certain things are funny to some people, while others just miss the point. Taste varies.
The story will grab you right from the start, and you will enjoy it all the way through to the end. As a solid, decidedly professional job, Big Sick Heart delivers.
By Sheila Gallagher
Karen Seagate and Ryan Miner, detectives in Rawlings, Montana, are assigned a security detail to protect the adversaries in a stem-cell debate at Central Montana State College from being assaulted or killed during the debate. Early the next morning Karen receives a call to go to the hotel where one of the debaters has been killed. As she and her partner search for the killer, they learn many unsavory things about the victim and those around him.
The story started slow but once the murder investigation begins it picked up. I tried to figure out who was guilty but I never figured it out. I liked the twists in the investigation. I also liked that Ryan has learned a few things from Karen that I did not expect to see coming from him. I enjoyed the banter between Karen and some of her colleagues (Dr. Breen, Robin, and Ryan.) It is a dry humor but fun to figure out what they are saying. I did not like the chief nor his receptionist. What a jerk of an ex-husband!
The soul-searching Karen had to do after the accident was interesting and seemed to be long overdue for her. This is a good set-up for the series where I learned who the characters were, what their personalities are, and who are the good guys and the bad guys. I am looking forward to more in the series.
Please click HERE to find Big Sick Heart on Amazon.