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Novak's Mission

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Loved it! 😍

"Novak's Mission" is an entertaining and intriguing police mystery that will draw readers along a misty trail that reveals a hidden crime.

One universal feature of mystery writing (don’t call them rules; there are few “rules.”) is that every character has a secret.

It is the successful hinting at these secrets and, after peeling away layers and layers of stuff, the eventual reveal of them that drive many mystery book plots.

Author James H. Lewis uses this device to great success in his new mystery, “Novak’s Mission.” This is an entertaining read, even if a couple of the “bad guys” are somewhat one-dimensional.

Full disclosure: Like Novak I am long time journalist who writes mysteries.

Novak’s background is evident in the beginning the story as he maneuvers readers through the minutia of local government. But that stroll through civic engagement is also a plot device that creates the underpinnings for future action and understanding.

The other evidence of Novak’s career is the crisp, direct prose, which is both instructive and propulsive as Police Chief Karol Novak settles into a new job in his hometown and finds there is trouble in River City. With a capital T.

Novak, a retired Pittsburgh, Pa. detective, is appointed police chief in the small suburb of Boyleston.

The description of the crumbling police station is apt metaphor for the department and the town. Novak is succeeding a police chief who was running scam from the department; he inherits a force marred by strife and distrust, and a power hungry mayor and a council more intent on in-fighting than legislating.

Oh, and the town’s economy has collapsed.

Novak’s Boyleston also a changing town as the old manufacturing base has faded and immigrants have become a larger economic force; this is both a modern reflection, and a measure of Novak’s own family’s immigrant past and a hint to a piece of his secret and “mission.”

As Novak settles in, he confronts a double dealing deputy chief and is asked by a child why her grandfather is in jail, maybe for a crime he did not commit.

The story is laid out as a police detective would investigate it.

A statement leads to a clue. A clue leads to more information. Someone examines data  and forms a new theory of the crime.

Step by step, the cold case and the current world of Boyleston circle one another.

Masterfully, Lewis ties together the strings and conversely pulls apart the charade and the act buried under decades of lies is exposed.

Reviewed by

I am a career award-winning journalist and the author of the four-book Frank Nagler Mystery series. Kirkus Reviews called Nagler "one of modern fiction's expertly drawn detectives." I have also written short stores, poetry, and literary fiction.

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About the author

James H (Jim) Lewis is a former reporter, public media executive, and non-profit consultant. He has lived and worked in Washington, DC, Florida, Texas, New England, Oregon, and Sweden and now lives in Pittsburgh. His articles have appeared in the Washington Post. This is his third novel. view profile

Published on August 31, 2020

50000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Mystery & Crime

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