Sunday, May 18, 2014

Pawn of Satan Written by Mark Zubro

Reviewer: Jon Michaelsen
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Pages: 303

Chicago police Detective Paul Turner is back and in a big way. This time Turner and his petulant partner, Detective Buck Fenwick, catch the case of a murdered Catholic bishop, who was gay and not much of a secret among his brethren. The bishop’s badly disfigured body has been discovered in a seedy part of Chicago near the river and it is going to take the quick-witted and longtime partnered duo, Turner & Fenwick, to solve the case, and especially when it appears everyone within the local Catholic hierarchy is a suspect.

One of the most enjoyable, if not utterly fascinating, aspects of Zubro’s Paul Turner mystery series are the sub-plots chronicling the every-day life of a gay father and his two teenage boys, one with spina bifida, his lifelong partner, Ben, and how they go about their everyday lives. Zubro excels in capturing the human experience facing challenges perhaps unlike the typical family, but like the typical family is what the reader gets to experience. There is no “why me” self-pity bestowed upon the precocious young man confined to a wheelchair or crutches, who exemplifies love, courage and enormous drive. Not to mention the older son, who happens upon his best friend in time to save the young man from hanging himself. Clearly, Paul Turner’s family provides him stability, and his longtime partner Ben, gives him the loving comfort he needs. But, it’s the job of homicide detective that completes Turner’s well-rounded life.

Pawn of Satan is perhaps the most complex novel to date written by Zubro, chock full of twists and turns, red herrings and false clues. Zubro’s knowledge of the Catholic Order is exceptional, facets of the novel meticulously researched. Readers of solidly written, complex mysteries will appreciate the clues to help identify the killer, but may realize their guess comes up short of the truth.