The Toyman Rides Again
Robert S. Napier
Five Star, Apr 7 2010, $25.95
In Tacoma, Washington, veteran and former investigative reporter Jack Lorentz enjoys selling collectible toys to baby boomers though he only makes a modest living at the Olden Daze co-op. August Baldwin enters his shop and says he recognizes the smell of death by shooting (see Love, Death, And The Toyman). He explains to Lorentz that he wants to hire him to protect the reenactor Charles Swanson playing the role of General George Armstrong Custer. He feels with Jack’s recent reputation, he might keep away those who want to harm the reenactor playing the role because someone has threatened him.
Jack is to play the part of reporter Mark Kellogg who died at the battle of Little Big Horn. However, after a previous skirmish, on the way to the site where the current battle will rage, Native Americans led by Harold Two Bears and Professor Abigail She Stands In Light attack the company. When the dust settles, Custer-Swanson is dead with Two Bears’ knife in him. Police Sergeant Cooper arrests Two Bears while Abigail asks Jack to snoop as she believes her friend is innocent. Attracted to the professor, Jack knows she had access to Two Bear’s knife. As he makes inquiries, Jack alienates everyone.
This is a fun Reagan era whodunit starring a reluctant former investigative journalist who feels guilty that he failed at his mission though he knows Swanson as Custer was impossible to protect. The story line provides a fascinating deep look at reenactors, but an incident with a new recruit seems over the top of Granite Peak. The whodunit is entertaining as the reader knows whom most likely killed Custer yet not sure how. The Toyman Rides Again is a fun mystery.