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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Like Kinsey Millhone or Hercule Poirot? Try This Story by Earl Staggs

The Missing SniperThe Missing Sniper by Earl Staggs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I was younger, I devoured the mysteries of Agatha Christie. My favorites were the ones in which Miss Marple gently worked her way to the solution, lifting lie after lie out of the way. I also enjoyed, though, the way that Hercule Poirot saw so quickly through the puzzles around him, flying to a solution so quickly that those around him were bedazzled -- a literary descendant of Poe's Dupin.

If you enjoy Hercule Poirot, you'll enjoy Adam in this short story. The mystery is not difficult to figure out -- you'll likely identify the villain as soon as you meet him -- but the supremely confident Adam, with his constant need for coffee, will remind you of Poirot's constant attention to his mustaches. Adam's semi-emo condescension toward Dillon will remind you of the way Poirot treats Inspector Japp, his friend Hastings, and anyone else he deals with.

My personal taste is more toward the flawed detective -- James Lee Burke is a big favorite of mine right now. But in the tradition of the quasi-first-person mystery, that takes you through some gentle twists and turns to an outcome, "The Missing Sniper" is a fine addition.

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