Smoke & Mirrors
John Ramsey Miller
Dell, Apr 2008, $6.99
Paulus Styer , a professionally trained assassin, once told Ex US Marshal Winter says he will walk away from his ( thetarget) if his Massey does not search for him. Ex-Marshal Winter Massey and his family go deer hunting in the Mississippi Delta. Tunica County Sheriff Brad Barnettt asks Winter to look at a corpse who had his business card near it. Winter knows immediately that his enemy assassin Styer left his calling card, toothpicks soaked in clove oil.
Winter realizes why Styer is in the Delta; he plans to kill the former Marshal and whoever contracted him for a hit. Brad deputizes him because he needs someone who knows the assassin. After doing some investigating in the county record they both believe Styer killed the wrong person. The Sheriff’s girlfriend Leigh Gardner owns the last strip of land that Royal Resorts International covets in order for the firm to build a new gigantic gambling complex in the Delta. The woman he killed was supposed to be Leigh. The theory is that Styer came to kill her and her children. Skyer abducts Leigh’s daughter Cynthia forcing Winter to take counter action.
The protagonist is a quixotic mix of macho ruthlessness and gentle sensitivity depending on friend or foe. The assassin sets up a brilliant cat and mouse game in which he makes and breaks the rules while disguising himself so his antagonist cannot recognize him. There is plenty of action, but the thrust of this fine crime caper belongs to the cast as Brad and Winter become brothers-in-arms in a war against Styer.