University City author’s second crime thriller
August 29, 2015 10:20 am • By Harry Levins Special to the Post-Dispatch
A novel by Peter H. Green
Published by Greenskills Press, 266 pages, $14.95 (paperback)
University City writer Peter H. Green brings back local architect Patrick MacKenna for a second crime thriller, “Fatal Designs,” following up on “Crimes of Design,” from 2012.
But in the new book, the starring role falls to MacKenna’s teenage daughter, Erin. One summer weekend, she heads off to the Ozarks for a canoe trip on the Current River. There, she’ll mentor a younger black girl as part of a Big Sister program.
The girls avoid disaster when an earthquake churns up the river. But outside their campsite that evening, the girls spot two mean-looking men burying a corpse. The men snatch the girls and drive them to a cabin somewhere in the boondocks of the Metro East area — remote enough to house a meth operation.
Worse yet, they drag Erin off to a Metro East strip spot and force her to audition for a burlesque berth. “Erin had deep misgivings about performing,” readers learn. “But the alternative, if she didn’t succeed in this audition, was grim indeed. She had a beautiful body. By showing it off, she might just be able to save herself.”
Can her father and the FBI rescue her from this indignity? Can they do so in the face of yet another earthquake? How does the long-ago Vietnam War play into all of this? And how will architect MacKenna react to Erin’s news that she’s pregnant, thanks to her single shot at sex with her teenage boyfriend?
OK, the plot goes overboard. And Metro East readers may take offense at Green’s depictions of their turf. Same with the Ozarks. Green writes about “the legacy of bootlegging, marijuana culture, and, more recently, illegal methamphetamine production that flourished, hidden in the hills. [Erin] didn’t understand the Ozarks’ history — an ancient Appalachian culture, whose people are bent on avenging blood feuds and gaining advantage over all comers, regardless of the consequences.”
But University City gets off clean.
Harry Levins of Manchester retired in 2007 as senior writer of the Post-Dispatch.
I wrote Harry Levins to thank him for the review and said: ” It’s true that University City gets off clean, but to take them on I’d have to move away first, or the firemen wouldn’t come when I called.” –PHG