Friday, December 6, 2013


by Phyllis Smallman
Touch Wood Editions

This is something new for Phyllis Smallman. A gripping mystery that's not part of the Sherri Travis series. For one thing, Long Gone Man has moved from one hot sunny vacation spot to the area sometimes aptly called, the Caribbean of Canada, the B.C. coast. Although, we're not really on the coast but rather on an island,Glenphiddie it's called, possibly part of the beautiful Gulf Islands between the mainland and Vancouver Island. She knows this area well because it's her home, half of the year.

Enough for the geography. What really stands out is the main character, the singer as she's referred to at first. But we know it's a Singer Brown Mystery, so that's her name. We know little about her to begin with, except that she has a past and that's what's driving her to a confrontation and her future. Early on, after a heart-stopping near-plunge over a steep embankment on a foggy night, the singer finds her way to a cabin and finds a woman with a gun and a dead body. Johnny Vibes, the man she'd come for; her goal, revenge.

From there the story unfolds, a tale of a rock band from the seventies when she was, for a short time, the lead singer for the group. The story is sad but explains how Singer's life degenerated into that of a stalker, someone always on the move, and even for a while, an addict. When the remains of a young man who'd been shot decades ago out on a Nevada desert are uncovered, Singer pursues the members of the band, who now all live within walking distance of each other on this island. She's searching for the truth and something that was stolen so long ago. Everyone had a motive for this new murder and Singer is certain it's tied into the old one.

It's a riveting tale of betrayal, greed, and jealousy. What better ingredients for a murder?

Smallman writes strong women and she writes them really well. Sherri Travis, whom we've gotten to know and root for over five novels, is such a woman. And Singer Brown is someone to be reckoned with. She's determined and daring, not always a good thing, but she's also clever and that's what takes this past a gothic sensibility. Because many times I had the urge to call out to Singer, telling her to back off and lie low. Just shows that I was really drawn into the story. It's no wonder. Smallman is an award-winning writer and one worth reading.

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