Crooked Numbers: A Raymond Donne Mystery (Minotaur Books, $25.99, 320 pages)
Tim O’Mara’s Crooked Numbers, the second in the Raymond Donne mystery series, follows a very familiar – perhaps too familiar – path for those who read his debut novel Sacrifice Fly.
Donne is a former police officer turned public school teacher in Brooklyn. He had to leave the force when injured in the line of duty but just can’t get the cop out of him.
In Crooked Numbers, a young kid with a promising future, Doug Lee, is killed. Lee’s mother approaches Donne for help, and soon thereafter another teenager turns up dead and yet another end up in the hospital. Donne can’t fight his instincts and springs into action. Similar to the storyline in Sacrifice Fly, he becomes more valuable than the actual police in solving the mystery and catching the bad guys.
Well known characters permeate the scene – Uncle Ray, also a former cop; Allison, the love-interest newspaper reporter; and Muscles, the physical therapist who pushes Donne to return to normal functioning all reappear.
O’Mara’s writing is solid, and Donne is generally an interesting fellow. But there isn’t a lot of intrigue in this story that would move it into the page turner category. It is good, but perhaps a bit of a sophomore slump. Odds are that the third installment will bounce back with a little more needed oomph.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. Oddly, none of Tim O’Mara’s books are available in trade paperback form.
Dave Moyer is a public school superintendent in Illinois, and the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.