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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bad Moon Rising (Sam McCain #9) (audiobook) by Ed Gorman

Published by AudioGo in 2012
 Read by Joe Barrett 
Duration: 6 hours, 6 minutes.

This is the first book I have read (or for that matter even seen) in the Sam McCain series. Normally, I would not recommend jumping in on the ninth book in a series, but it is a testament to the skill of the author, Ed Gorman, that I was able listen to Bad Moon Rising and join right in and not feel lost at all. The titles in the series all come from music from the general time that the book is set in.

 It is late August 1968. It is hot in Black River Falls, Iowa. The book starts with Sam McCain at a party watching the violence of the Democratic National Convention. Hippies are on TV and hippies are in Black River Falls. They are a source of controversy as their free love lifestyle, long hair and drug usage rankle a lot of people in small town Iowa. They live on an old farm with a history of tragedy and that history continues as the daughter of the local millionaire is found dead in a barn on the commune. She was a frequent visitor on the farm and was known to date a resident so the finger of suspicion is immediately pointed at the hippies. Sam McCain is called out by the leader of the commune because he is the only attorney in town that will have anything to do with them. Tensions escalate as McCain tries to figure out what happened.

Ed Gorman
McCain is an interesting character. He sees why the hippies would want to "drop out" of society, but knows they aren't really going off the grid. He is irritated at the mindless anti-hippie reactions of many of his neighbors, but he is very aware that some of these folks cause serious trouble. He admires their talk about freedom, but notes that they live in a commune controlled by an iron-fisted dictator. What kind of guy is Sam McCain? He is the kind of guy that you like but your wife thinks is an asshole. And you know what, you'd  both be right. He is full of contradictions. He likes the hippies but he is a member of the National Guard. He likes to poke his finger in the eye of authority but he does a lot of investigative work for a judge.

I like this book for a lot of reasons. Number one, it's a good old-fashioned mystery. Number two, it's a bit of a history lesson, reminding readers of the upheaval of 1968. Number three, Ed Gorman reminds everyone that the Midwest is not all corn-fed country boys and girls riding on tractors. As a native of Indiana I can tell you that this is not "flyover country" - life happens here, too.

Reason number four for liking the book is the reader, Joe Barrett. Personally, I hate hearing audiobooks with  out of place accents. Barrett hits "Midwest" over and over again perfectly. His sheriff actually sounds almost exactly like a guy I know. Excellent job.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on July 15, 2012.

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