Review: It Dies With You (Scott Blackburn)

Hudson Miller, part-time bouncer and currently suspended boxer (for hitting an opponent’s corner man after a bout, causing the man to fall through the ropes and onto the apron around the ring), fails to answer not one, but two calls from his estranged father one night. The next morning, he receives a call he does answer: from a detective, telling Hudson that his father has been murdered – one shot to the back of his head.

Miller returns to his small town, determines what the cops know (nothing), visits his stepmother (useless), calls his mother (sad), then goes back to the big city. Things change, though, when his father’s will is read: he left Hudson three rental properties and his salvage yard operation, none of which are anything Hudson knows anything about. He also inherits his father’s helper at the yard, Charlie, an old Vietnam vet, and the proverbial junkyard dog, Buster.

Frustrated with police, and lacking a steady job, Hudson decides to move back to the town, living in the empty rental and figuring out how to run the yard, and starts digging around in the mystery surrounding his father’s death. The police do come up with something, though: guns. Stored in a vault under a fake floor, it appears Hudson’s father was involved in gunrunning. Hudson, for his part, thinks it possible his father would be involved in that, because his father wasn’t exactly a pillar of good deeds.

One night, Buster starts barking and digging at something under one of the cars. Charlie and Hudson manage to drag him away, move the junked car, and discover another car: buried. When they unearth the crushed car, there’ a dead body in the trunk. While Hudson thinks his old man could have been involved in guns, he doesn’t think his father was a murderer.

With the yard shut down while the police do their thing, Hudson returns to the city to do a few shifts at the bar. One evening, he gets a call to turn on the TV. The news has broken not just about the body in the car, but the young man’s name. The story goes on to mention the salvage yard. Hudson, now tremendously mad, goes to the police station and asks the detective what is going on?

The detective points out the mother and sister of the young man, Mo Reyes, are right there in the front of the office. Hudson calms himself and leaves, but not before Reyes’ sister Lucy puts a dent in the hood of his Jeep.

Lucy shows up at the yard, and instantly becomes the leader of the very small group: following her lead, both men assist in gathering information about what happened to Reyes, which in turn would help them with Hudson’s father’s murder.

15-year old Lucy has a couple of instances of not quite believable behavior: she takes an Uber to confront a man who was arrested smuggling guns, only to be bailed out by Hudson and Charlie, for one.

At the end, though, they’ve followed the trails, collected the clues, and formed a scenario of how these events transpired, and who the killer must be.

It’s a good read, without any real slow pieces, and the only infodump is from someone they’ve confronted about Reyes’ death – no ding for that. Beyond Lucy being a tad too impetuous, the characters are excellently drawn.

Four and a half out of five stars, rounded up to five.

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the reading copy.

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