Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Eggstone Murders, by Herbert L Smith | Review and Guest Post


A thick-headed sheriff, a young, unsure, wannabe detective, and a savvy older criminal-turned-investigator, are only the beginning of the cast of characters included in this story of small-town life in southwestern Iowa, set in 1953.  Meet them on the streets of Hillville, at the town square, or at a big-business farm nearby.  They all have a story to tell, and some of them have a few things to hide. Others have quite a few.

Enjoy the storms, the intrigues, and the mid-western hospitality – including the wonderful food – of Hillville, Iowa, as its down-to-earth folk work their way through the dailiness of their quiet lives.

There are the murders, of course, which cause dismay, but the con-man-turned-detective, Guy, is able to resolve them, after a few hard bumps, and the guilty are punished – or, as is sometimes Guy’s choice, forgiven.

As a whole, it’s a pleasant outing on an Iowa summer’s day.

My Review

The Eggstone Murders is a cozy mystery, the first book in the Starfire Mystery Series.  I am a big fan of the cozy mystery genre.  Almost all of the cozies that I read are written by women, about women sleuths, however, so this book was a bit of a stretch for me.  

At first, I didn't really get into the story, or connect with the main characters.  (Keep in mind, though, that my disconnect reflects my preferences, not the author Herbert Smith's book.)  I didn't give up on The Eggstone Murders, but kept on reading, with the hope that I would like it better.  

And wow, am I glad I did!  There is a plot twist at the very end that was totally unexpected, and changed the way I looked at a character.  Now I am psyched to read the second book in the Starfire Mystery Series, Liquor Is Quicker, which is expected to be published in October 2013.  

Author Herbert Smith, before becoming a novelist, was a teacher, lecturer, and writer of non-fiction books for many years.  The detailed expository passages in The Eggstone Murders demonstrate his pre-novelist success as a non-fiction writer.  I enjoyed the little nuggets of knowledge that I gained from his book.  For example, do you know what Loess Hills are?  I didn't — but I do now, and you will too, when you read The Eggstone Murders.  (I'm a science geek, so I like learning facts like that.)  

I suspect that in the next book, the fiction elements (such as dialog and characterizations) will, in my opinion, be as strong as the non-fiction elements that Herb Smith has mastered.  I look forward to reading Liquor Is Quicker, to learn if my hypothesis is true or false.  

I gave The Eggstone Murders a three-kitty rating, primarily because the men of the Starfire Detective Agency didn't give the chick-lit aspect to the book that I look for in the more typical cozies that I usually read.  I recommend this book for men who like cozy mysteries, and for women who are open-minded fans of cozies  not female chauvinists like me (sorry, Herb).  


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Guest Post

Guy is something of an enigmatic character.  You never know what he's going to do, at least not until you've known him awhile.  In many ways, Guy is me and I am Guy.  I'm not an embezzler, of course, but Guy and I think alike in many ways.  And we are dead ringers for each other.

I chose to make Guy something of myself, because I've met a lot of people who seem to think (actually I'm sure they DO think) that an older man who is chubby (to put it nicely), and a little less than slickly neat in his appearance, may not have all his brain cells synaptically aligned.  That is certainly untrue, but I've known people who regarded me that way. 

Guy, as you will discover, has no lack of ability so far as mental facility is concerned.  I like to think that he can do mental rings around most of the people he knows.  I also believe that people don't need to be super-intelligent or gifted to be courteous to each other, and to consider the possibility that they shouldn't make snap judgments.  Everybody is worthy, and everybody should be allowed to be the person they truly are.  If I think that someone is lesser than myself, it backfires, and I am reduced in my capacity to empathize and act humanely.  That's the story behind Guy.  He is imperfect, for sure, but he is humane.  (Most of the time.)

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About The Author

Herb Smith was born and raised in ‘Hillville,’ Iowa, a town situated close to Omaha, across the mighty Missouri River and a few miles south.  He lived there until he was a young adult, and gradually made his way out into the rest of the world from that unique beginning.

He has lived and worked on four continents and many different countries, and has crisscrossed the Atlantic more times than he wants to remember.  (The trip was fun for the first few times.  After that it was more painful.)

His books include: Cairo, The Mother Of The World; Crossing Borders; The Great Sphinx Of Amun-Ra; Songs Of Saints And Angels; The Names Of The Days – A Novel Of Egypt’s 2011 Revolution; and other, as-yet-unpublished, Starfire Mystery stories.

He is a musician and composer, teacher, and reader.  All those things add up to a lifetime of books, music, and looking into a computer screen.

He and his wife, Glenda, live in Eugene, Oregon, where they retired several years ago.

The Eggstone Murders may be purchased at
Goodreads     Amazon     Book World     Barnes & Noble

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The Giveaway

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Note:  I received an ARC of The Eggstone Murders from the author, with no expectation of a positive review.