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Detective Jake Somers has made many memorable trips from Dallas to the East Texas town of Pecan Gap. However, the past few trips have given him cause for concern. Old friends have told him about the unusual disappearance of residents, vandalism, and odd flickering lights moving in the night--all very unsettling in a quiet farm community. However, his drive to unscramble the Pecan Gap puzzle is hampered by his need to deal with an equally troubling situation in Dallas that involves his girlfriend, the D.A.'s office, a city councilman, a drug dealer, and the FBI.
The juxtaposition of big city crimes in Dallas, Texas and small rural town murders comes into focus for ex-cop turned private eye Jake Somers in Don Castle’s crime mystery novel, Pecan Gap.
A tiny speck of a country town dotting a map in rural Texas, built around an old abandoned train station, a combination diner and gas station plus two grocery stores, Pecan Gap was where Jake Somers grew up. As a boy in a small town in the mid 1900’s it was commonplace for town folks to know everyone, including all their family members, their businesses and heritage. Even the oddball behavior of some of the introverted town folks was taken with a grain of salt, as suspicion took a back seat to the benefit of doubt when judging people. The train depot, unremarkable in any way, quiet and forgotten were the perfect conditions for old Henry Martin, the stationmaster, to conduct his systematic serial killing; picking off lone travelers going through town, knowing the victims will never be missed. He would take what little they had with them, and dump their bodies in a pit under the train depot in oiled burlap mail bags never to be found. Police investigations, if and when they would ever be conducted, would simply end with a comment by Henry saying he last saw the person boarding a train leaving town. That was it; a cold case. They all became left in the filing cabinet of the small town sheriff’s office, likely never to be opened again.
This plot plays like a “bass beat” in a musical, as Don Castle begins to overlay tracks of “rhythm” by bringing in drug money, “vocals” by having Jake’s personal life with his girlfriend working for the Dallas district attorney interleaved. He then adds “harmony” by telling of Jake’s relationship with his mother, and many other “rifts” of storytelling finesse. Castle even makes Jake’s Mercedes Benz a pseudo-character. Before you know it, Don Castle is conducting the story like a virtuoso bringing life to an orchestra, with the ease and fluidity of classical storytelling, revealing the mystery with enjoyable skill, very much to my liking. In fact I must add that when it’s done this well, Don Castle makes writing look easy.
You really get swept up quickly in this enjoyable novel, as it is written with respect for the reader’s intelligence and shows an intrinsic politeness of Don Castle’s persona through his character of Jake Somers. Don Castle doesn’t resort to foul language, violent scenes or over the top sexual innuendos, making this book ideal for young adult reading as well as the seasoned who-done-it fans. We hope to see more of Jake Somers’ “down to earth values” in future works as he has become a truly memorable character.