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Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir

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Night Watchmanby Mark Mynheir

Reviewed by Dale Lewis

"...a well-written crime story, extremely rich in plot, characters and tangled twists."

Ray is both physically and emotionally damaged, the direct result of a tragic shooting a year ago. Forced to retire, he’s barely existing as the night watchman for a condominium complex. He longs for the surreal event to somehow be undone, for life to be pain-free and return to the normal he once knew. His former partner and true love, Trisha, was gunned down in the same incident. His new partner is now the bottle . . . affectionately referred to as “Jim.”

When an inner city minister is found dead in one of the condo units with a stripper, Ray is thrust into the middle of an eye-opening scandal. Pam, the minister's sister convinces a reluctant Ray to investigate the case after his former colleagues quickly close the file as an apparent murder/suicide. She adamantly believes her brother was incapable of murder or sleeping around. Initially, he takes the case to prove a rival wrong but several attempts on his life proves he has opened a can of deep dark secrets complete with corrupt players.

Written in the first person narrative with realistic dialogue, Mynheir has penned an intricately woven suspense thriller. The emotional warmth of this story will draw you into the tension-filled action. I was more anxious than usual to come to the conclusion of The Night Watchman.

The story’s protagonist, Ray Quinn has the manners of an agitated gorilla in a china closet. His people skills definitely need some refining and yet as the reader, you’ll have difficulty not rooting for him to experience victory over the lingering bitterness and purposelessness.

Mynheir delivers a cast of compulsive and complimentary characters within these pages. From Crevis, the overly anxious bumbling kid trying to prove himself worthy of being Ray’s night shift partner, to Pam, the out spoken Christ-follower hoping to find justice by clearing her brother’s name, to the various police and detectives, all with differing opinions on Ray and his sad situation.

The excessive cursing and gratuitous sex scenes in contemporary mysteries are missing in this novel--which to some readers might hinder its believability . . . but to this reader, it was a refreshing change and didn’t taint the realism. The redemptive value in The Night Watchman is not overpowering but instead is a steady, quiet and gentle underlying process within the story line. It is not a clean “all is well that ends well” conclusion. Some questions are left unanswered, yet hope still abounds.

The Night Watchman is a well-written crime story, extremely rich in plot, characters and tangled twists. Only an insider in the world of law enforcement like Mark Mynheir could have pulled this story off. I look forward to his next title.

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Dale Lewis now mans the front desk at the EFCA (The Evangelical Free Church of America) National Office in Minneapolis, MN. He was the graphic designer/pre-press production artist for over twelve years before being asked to step into this new role. Prior to that, he was the publications manager at his alma mater, Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN in the public relations office as well as the adviser to the college’s yearbook. He's a director/actor/writer for the Hope Church (Oakdale, MN) adult drama worship team and was the senior editor of the church newsletter. He's also written two collections of poetry, “Whispers of Assurance” and “On Life: Constant Communion Without Ceasing” as well as a devotional entitled “Eternal Education.” He and his family live in Oakdale, Minnesota.