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Behind the Redwood Door: A Guy Mallon Mystery    by John M. Daniel order for
Behind the Redwood Door
by John M. Daniel
Order:  USA  Can
Oak Tree Press, 2011 (2011)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Guy Mallon (who, at five feet tall, is vertically challenged) and his wife Carol (at standard height) own a used book store on the north coast of California, a land of 'rocky shores and redwood forests with a rich history of gold, lumber, Native Americans and hardy entrepreneurs'.

Guy and Carol are in the Redwood Door, a local watering hole, when their friend Peter Thayer, who is also the publisher of a local weekly newspaper, is murdered behind the pub. Peter's live-in girlfriend, River Webster (a woman with a checkered past) and he had just had a disagreement. So, of course, River is the first suspect.

The pace of this mystery is fast, always with a surprise around the next corner. Guy has a run-in with a local fisherman and ends up in the harbor. It's not easy being smaller than your average twelve year-old. Author John M. Daniel has a great character in Guy, who does not dwell on the fact he is so short he uses it for humor at times. He's just a regular guy who knows his limitations. Carol makes a great foil for him not condescending and counts on him as any wife would.

The mystery revolves around the townspeople, the town that is rich in history, and the usual riff-raff. There are swindlers, fishermen, dope growers, floozies - you name it and any group will be represented. Now murderer has to be added to the mix.

I reviewed Daniel's second book, Vanity Fire, and found it really good. I think the same of Behind the Redwood Door. You also might want to check out the first of this series The Poet's Funeral. Worth the effort. Daniel's descriptions of the town and the surrounding countryside make me want to put the area on my bucket list.

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