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Running out of Road: A Buck Schatz Mystery    by Daniel Friedman order for
Running out of Road
by Daniel Friedman
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Running out of Road follows Don't Ever Get Old and Don't Ever Look Back as the third in Daniel Friedman's cozy mystery series starring elderly Memphis retired cop Buck Schatz, an old school hard-boiled dick.

As this episode opens, Buck (now ninety years old) is in worse shape than ever. Injuries suffered in the series opener forced Buck and his wife Rose to move to the Valhalla Estates Lifestyle Community for Older Adults. He's very frail, needs a walker and suffers from mild to moderate dementia. He cannot recall, moment to moment that Rose, his wife of 72 years, has been diagnosed with cancer.

While avoiding dealing with this family crisis, Buck is called by NPR producer Carlos Watkins about a very cold case. Convicted serial killer Chester March's execution date has been set after decades on death row. March essentially claims that Buck beat a confession out of him. Despite the urgent advice of his grandson William (a lawyer whom Buck nicknames Tequila) Buck is determined to protect his legacy.

The story moves back and forth in time, following Buck's original investigation as well as Watkins' attempts to get him to agree to an interview and Tequila's protective responses. Readers hear from the law professor fighting for a stay of execution, not because he believes in March's innocence but because he is against the death penalty.

The death penalty analysis adds depth and heart to the story as does Buck's reaction of denial to his wife's diagnosis. It's always a pleasure to spend time with Buck, Rose and Tequila and I hope to do it again soon.

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