Golf fans and mystery mavens will rejoice at Dahler’s second appearance on the tour.
PGA golfer, lawyer and private eye Huck Doyle (A Tight Lie, 2009) has a sponsor’s exemption to the Sony Open that could jump-start his career. When his law-school friend Rick Wong’s father, the man who got Huck the exemption, is shot dead on the 17th tee of the Waialae Country Club, Huck is sucked into danger. Certain that an upcoming secret bank merger is the reason for his father’s death, Rick begs Huck to investigate. Because he’d promised his father that he’d never pry into his private life, he hands over his father’s computer to Huck. Suddenly Huck is harried by some mysterious tough guys whose behavior escalates from annoying to violent. Huck’s paraplegic brother, a former FBI agent, helps him crack encrypted computer files that unmask Mr. Wong as a pedophile who’d been making money from a disgusting business and implicate both his partner, a former Chinese general, and agents of the Chinese government as suspects in his death. Huck, who’s found his golf game, is trying to keep up the good work after winning the Pro-Am. Making the cut and emerging as the 36-hole leader, he merely has to stay alive long enough to solve the puzzle and try to win the tournament.
A hole in one full of can’t-put-it-down adventure, stroke-by-stroke descriptions of the play and a clever solution.
Campaign For The American Reader:
The follow-up to the critically acclaimed A Tight Lie--a darkly funny, fast-talking mystery with a dash of sports and no shortage of action.
Golf is a game of consistency, and after too many missed fairways, missed putts, and missed cuts, Huck Doyle’s career as a Tour pro is on life support. The sometime private eye has lost his full-time PGA player status and is back to scraping it out on minor tournaments. So it’s only by the generosity of the father of an old law-school pal, Rick Wong, that Huck finds himself in paradise with a rare sponsor’s exemption, gearing up to play in the Sony Open in Hawaii. But when his benefactor keels over dead from a gunshot during a practice round, Huck is obligated to find out who killed the millionaire banker and pillar of the community. Is it the young wife? A competitor trying to stop a secret bank merger? Or was it an assassination ordered from some distant shores?
With his brother undergoing an experimental spinal-cord treatment and his relationship with a beautiful medical examiner showing some strain, Huck has more than enough on his mind as he tees off in a career-changing match. As the investigation carries him into the murky waters of international finance, computer encryptions, and the dark side of paradise, Huck finds himself playing the game of his life, on and off the golf course.
In the footsteps of Tim Green and Mike Lupica, Don Dahler has once again written a riveting mystery that brings the world of sports into crime fiction. Water Hazard will satisfy thriller readers and golf fanatics alike.
Huck Doyle is a PGA Tour pro on the margins, forced to qualify every year because he fails to finish in the top 125, making a hardscrabble existence out of an occasional good performance and a none-too-lucrative side of private investigation. His luck changes when he is invited to play in the Sony Open, the year’s first event.
During a practice round for the Pro-Am event, the man who invited him, Hawaiian businessman Sing Ten Wong, is cracking jokes and generally making Doyle feel comfortable. Until he is shot to death by a sniper on the 17th tee.
Thus begins Don Dahler’s second tale featuring Doyle, WATER HAZARD, following A TIGHT LIE. Doyle is a suitably charismatic protagonist, a ladies’ man who is trying to stay straight and narrow with one special girl, and a man of average character who certainly knows his own weaknesses, but strives to be better. So of course, he agrees to help Wong’s son look into the murder. But it’s what he finds out during the investigation that could destroy Wong’s family and indeed, get Doyle killed. To top it all off, he’s playing the best golf of his life.
Dahler has a brisk, no-nonsense style that is served well, believe it or not, by how the paragraphs are laid out on the page. The extra spacing between them creates discrete blocks of text solidifying each paragraph’s subject, thus canceling the habit of many authors who pour multiple subjects into paragraphs, creating run-on sentences, purple prose and muddied action scenes. Dialogue is indented and does not use he said/she said constructs, which sometimes can be confusing as to who is saying exactly what, but more often allows for a natural flow between action and dialogue. It’s a bit subtle, but a quite interesting approach.
The golfing here is quite descriptive and precise, which should appeal to folks who share that particular madness. And it’s always nice to see someone like professional golfer Vijay Singh have a minor role in the tale.
Oh, the coincidences are a little too much to take, such as when Doyle’s father appears, or the too-clichéd ending, but this isn’t meant to be Don DeLillo. This is a good, solid mystery that uses the links as a backdrop for its intriguing main character, and its little quirks are all more pleasing than less. —Mark Rose