The Randy Alcorn File:
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
"...top notch... one of those delightful mysteries that flips and flops every time you figure you've gotten the suspect pegged and the crime solved."
In a truly stunning addition to his previous novels Deadline and Dominion, Randy Alcorn continues his saga of crime, violence, and justice in Portland with his recent mystery Deception. After having written about journalists Jake Woods and Clarence Abernathy in the aforementioned novels, this time around Alcorn focuses instead on detective Oliver Justice Chandler, with the Daily Tribune’s columnists playing strong supporting character roles in this twisting, turning, upside/right-side up “whodunit”.
In Ollie Chandler, Alcorn has nailed the hard-bitten, cynical gumshoe perfectly, joining CBA contemporaries detectives Joe Box, (Until The Last Dog Dies, How to Skin A Cat, When Skylarks Fall, by John Laurence Robinson), and Colton Parker, (Original Sin, Seventy-Times Seven, Root of All Evil, by Brandt Dodson), as they usher in a new wave of detectives who aren’t perfect, have problems with their temper, question their faith, and like their firearms…but are also on spiritual quests to find a sense of being as well. Ollie Chandler is immediately likeable as the sarcastic, witty, clever and oftentimes bull-headed detective, and Alcorn does a wonderful job teetering him between a hurting soul that’s searching for peace and a man who’s seen far too many horrible things to accept faith too quickly.
Chandler’s moral and spiritual dilemmas are real and authentic, and Alcorn pulls a daring move more and more CBA authors are willing to risk these days: though convinced of his need to “follow the evidence, no matter where it leads” when it comes to investigating the claims of Christianity, Ollie remains unsaved at the end, leaving the reader itching for more of the lovable yet sometimes irritating detective, just to see where he ends up.
As a mystery, Deception is top notch (ending miles away from its starting point) and this is one of those delightful mysteries that flips and flops every time you figure you’ve gotten the suspect pegged and the crime solved. Alcorn parades a host of likely suspects throughout the novel, and the reader will literally be turning every single page until the end to get to the bottom of this engrossing and absorbing mystery.
The feel of the novel is just right too, right down to the “shady informant standing under a lone streetlight on a darkly lit street” vibes of classic crime and detective novels – only without the collateral smut you’d risk exposing yourself to in some secular mysteries. You’re never far from spiritual truth in Deception, but Alcorn is able to weave these truths into the narrative without making it feel like a sermon or Sunday School lesson.
Buy Deception today, and as Hercule Poirot was wont to say, put those “little gray cells” to work.
Lucia Kevin Lucia writes for The Press & Sun
Bulletin and The
Journal. His short fiction has appeared in Coach’s
Midnight Diner, The Relief Journal, All Hallows, Darkened
Horizons Vol. 3 & 4,
NexGen Pulp Magazine Issues 1 & 4, From the Shadows, Morpheus
Bohemian-Alien, Shroud Publishing’s horror anthology, Abominations,
Tyndale House’s inspirational anthology Life Savors. He’s
writing a novella for Shroud Publishing’s upcoming novella series, The
Hiram Grange Chronicles. He resides in Castle Creek, New York, with his
wife Abby, daughter Madison and son Zackary. He teaches high school English at
Catholic Central High School
in Binghamton, New York; and is finishing his Masters of Arts in Creative Writing
at Binghamton University. Visit him at his website and