14 November 2011

Review: Nick of Time by Tim Downs

My husband doesn't like me reading Bug Man novels, because I have a tendency to laugh at the outlandish things Nick Polchak says, in much the same way as I laugh at Sheldon or Raj off The Big Bang Theory on TV.  Nick is a combination of the two characters in that he is extremely intelligent, has a rare and complex professional specialty, and doesn't relate to people well, especially not to women (how else do you explain the ending of the last book, Ends of the Earth, where Nick managed to propose to two women at once?).

Nick is a forensic entomologist, which means he studies the insects that are attracted to human remains, and uses this to determine when (and sometimes where) the victim died.  It is best not to read the BugMan novels while eating.  They feature a lot of dead bodies and even more bugs.  Anyway, Nick is now happily engaged to Alene Savard, a reclusive a dog trainer he met when he needed a cadaver dog to find a dead body, and they are getting married in a week.  Alene is a brilliant dog trainer but is as socially incompetent as Nick, in her own special way.

The Vidocq Society is a dream team of forensic specialists dedicated to solving murders no one else can, and Nick is proud to have been invited to join. He attends a Society meeting a few days before the wedding at the express request of trusted friend and colleague, Pete Boudreau (and against Alene's wishes), but Pete is strangely absent, which sends Nick off on his trail.  His single-mindedness means he forgets to call Alene when he promises, so she gets worried and follows him to the Pocono’s, where there is a mystery waiting to be solved – but as circumstances keep them apart, can they solve the mystery before one of them becomes the next victim?

I don’t always enjoy books by male authors, as they can focus too much on story to the detriment of the relationships.  But Tim Downs and the BugMan novels are an exception.  Nick has deep-seated issues regarding human relationships, to the point where he often speaks of humans as being a distinct species that he is not a member of.  Alene has issues as well, and Tim Downs does an excellent job of showing the development in these two flawed characters, while maintaining enough humour to overshadow some of the gore in the content.  This is another well-crafted mystery from an author that I always look forward to reading.  An excellent novel.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and BloggingforBooks for providing a free ebook for review.

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