Del Staecker's Trilogy is the continuing story of a group of characters centered around Ledge Trabue, a private man who draws trouble and goodness in equal parts. Charming, cleverly plotted, and endearing, the three books are as addictive as M&Ms. The themes aren't especially new -- good versus evil is as well-worn as my grandma's house shoes. However, I couldn't stop reading. I tried. I'm a busy woman, after all. I tucked the first book, The Muted Mermaid, under the seat in my car -- but as the evening wore on, I started thinking about it out there in the cold garage and fancied that it was calling me. In the middle of the night, I snuck out with the flashlight app on my cell phone and retrieved it for one more hit before sleep.
Around 4 am, I splashed cold water on my face and brushed my teeth. I went to bed, but figured, what the hey? I just had to know why anyone would murder the luckless Karen Blaine. The novel finishes with a satisfying bang -- the bad guys and girl bite the dust...er... water. I yawned and stretched, relieved that my obsessive fascination with the hard-headed, sour-stomached protagonist and his motley circle of friends had reached a conclusion. There now. I had work to do, but I promptly fell asleep and didn't wake up until past noon. I opened my eyes, still tired from my late night adventures in Staecker-land.
There, sitting on my night stand, was Staecker's second novel in the series, Shaved Ice. I tried not to look at it. I got up and got dressed. I focused on my laptop, my cell phone, my little red poodle dog, my work -- but my eyes kept finding their way to the red, white, and black dust jacket. What IS shaved ice, I wondered. I squinted, trying to figure out what the beckoning cover was trying to tell me. No, I'm busy. Shaved Ice -- hmm, sounds like a delicious, sinful treat -- something you'd buy at a ball game -- or a circus. I picked it up. Just one chapter, then I'll get down to business, I told myself. Ledge and his buddy the Professor are called back to Nashville. Oh no! It's Reggie and Win. I LOVED Reggie and Win. Poor Amelia. Poor Elvira. I HAD to find out about them, didn't I?
So there I sat at Denny's the next afternoon, my Senior Country-fried steak growing cold as Trabue and the Professor made a pact with the Devil to take down another evildoer. "NO," I muttered, "Don't do it. You'll be sorry." I bit my tongue and glanced around. Everyone stared at their Grand Slams. People are used to cell phones and Bluetooth earpieces these days. They don't look at you quite as accusingly when they catch you talking to yourself. I returned to my book. You have to watch those southern boys, I thought to myself. They can't stand to leave a wrong unrighted -- and of course, Ledge and Albert ignored my warning and the dirty deed was done -- in Mexico of all places. I closed the book -- glad the bad guy had been dispatched so efficiently after all the sorrow he'd caused. Good riddance!
Now back to my life. I figured I'd catch up on all the things that I should have been doing the last week -- but no, like that last M&M in the bag, the third novel, inexplicably called Chocolate Soup, awaited. Well now, how in the world is a person supposed to focus on meat and potatoes when candy awaits? It's impossible, I tell you. So, like the sinner that I am, I sat down and was immediately drawn into Trabue and company's lives in New Orleans -- and you KNOW how much trouble one can get into in New Orleans. It's worse than Vegas and what happens in New Orleans ends up on the Six O'Clock News. So, I go through the laughter and the tears, the horror and the sorrow, the shock and the awe -- and the dad-gummed book ends and I don't have another one in hand.
As I put the final book on the shelf, I imagined Del Staecker snickering at me with the same grin that Forrest Mars wore the day he invented M&Ms.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
Reviewed by: Joyce Faulkner (2010)
Del Staecker's awesome literary skills are revealed with our release of The Muted Mermaid. Set in Nashville, the murder mystery introduces recurring characters in the Ledge Trabue Mystery Series while captivating readers with a fast-paced story that's impossible to put down.