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Devil's Backbone
AJ Stewart, author
To Miami Jones, fishing is a pastime best done with a cooler of beer and low expectations. So when a cable TV personality hires him to investigate irregularities in a competitive fishing tournament in Spanish Wells, Bahamas, Jones is less than enthusiastic. He expects to find a bunch of old geezers kicking back with lazy rods and a bucket of worms. What he finds is a high stakes and big money game, where winning is measured not in inches and pounds but in views and sponsorship deals. Before he knows it Jones finds himself in over his head, alone and with clues that all point in the wrong direction. To get himself out of this mess, he'll not only have to solve this mystery but also a murder from decades ago that still casts a shadow across this laid-back paradise.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.75 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Stewart is a gifted storyteller, and the pacing and storyline of Devil's Backbone are pitch-perfect.

Prose: Breezy and addictive, the prose moves the story forward at a satisfying clip without sacrificing the intricacies of a complex plot. Amusing dialogue and observations are peppered throughout and seem wholly appropriate to the cast and environment.

Originality: This is an excellent example of a PI mystery with a quirky cast and the right amount of action. New ground is not broken with this novel, but it remains a worthy addition to the genre.

Character Development/Execution: Miami is a typical PI with an interesting backstory and a likable, if somewhat rough, exterior. The rest of the cast members, from the police on the island to Miami's indomitable assistant Lizzy, are expertly crafted.

Date Submitted: August 18, 2022