Desert Kill Switch: Nostalgia City Mystery – Book #2 by Mark S. Bacon (Black Opal Books, $14.99, 286 pages)
In Desert Kill Switch, Lyle Deming, an ex-cop from Phoenix, serves as a security guard of sorts for Nostalgia City, a retro theme park that recreates small town life from the early 70s just outside of Reno. Kate Sorenson is a marketing specialist who is in town on business related to Nostalgia City.
Lyle arrives on the scene of a brutal car accident in the desert, but by the time the police get to the scene the body is gone. As the story unfolds, Kate is framed for the murder of Al Busick, a car dealer who puts hidden “kill switches” in cars as a means to collect money from customers who do not make their loan payments
Together, the ex-cop and former female college basketball player go on a mission to solve the mystery, catch the true killer, and exonerate Kate. It appears as if the motive has to do with a conspiracy to move a major music festival from Nostalgia City to Las Vegas.
The story hits the ground running and moves quickly, and the action and plot are solid from start to finish. However, the character development is not as strong. For example, scenes with Kate’s current and soon-to-be ex-lover seem like they are included without much of a purpose. (Desert Kill Switch is the second in the series of Nostalgia City novels, following Death in Nostalgia City.) Perhaps some of those who read the initial book in the series will have a different opinion.
As Lyle and Kate take the law into their own hands, Lyle calls in favors from his former law enforcement partners, and Kate – who only masquerades as a journalist, morphs from a former athlete to Wonder Woman.
Desert Kill Switch is enjoyable but is, at 286 pages, a bit longer than necessary. Not all of the many twists and turns work, and a brisker version of this thriller might have been just a touch more thrilling. As it stands, this book is a solid, engaging read for those who enjoy this type of murder mystery.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Dave Moyer is a public school superintendent in Illinois who has never been to Reno, Nevada.