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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Jamie August, Journalist Detective, Star of Mystery Series

TITLE: Ocean City Lowdown: A Jamie August Mystery
By Kim Kash
LENGTH: 204 pages, 60-80k words
GENRE: Mystery
PUBLISHER: Capri House/Amazon Kindle
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Reviewed  by Lynne Hinkey originally for Underground Book Reviews

4.5 stars
Jamie August covers "happy things, local people doing good, the latest rattan furnishings..." and other lightweight stories in Ocean City, Maryland for the lifestyle section of the community paper: The Weekly Breeze. But she aspires to cover real news as an investigative reporter. When her editor assigns her to write about the grand opening of Bayview Preserve, the flagship community for Ivory Enterprises, Jamie might have her chance as she uncovers more than just some interior design tips.

Arriving at Ivory Enterprises headquarters, Jamie is introduced to Jonathan Ivory, the scion of Ivory Enterprises, who will be taking her on a tour of the luxury gated community. He's also a previous evening's nameless one-night-stand. While touring Bayview Preserve, he lets his true colors slip through his polished exterior, and Jamie suspects he's hiding more than just a wife from her. Before long, a trail of fires and dead bodies lead Jamie into the dark underbelly of Ivory Enterprises long history of kickbacks, payoffs, blackmail, environmental degradation, and murder.

Early on, the story is slowed down by a glut of details on Jamie August's trailer-trash inspired outfits - and she seems to have a costume change for every scene. This initially might undermine reader confidence that the heroine will be able to pull off any serious investigative reporting. Although she does manage to get herself out of some harrowing situations, she often relies on men to come to her rescue, weakening what's otherwise, a strong female lead character. The action really takes off about one third of the way in, and after that, Jamie - and the story - really come alive.

Ocean City during the cold and desolation of the off-season plays nicely as a backdrop for the action. This is the first in a series of books, so introducing the setting and recurring characters in the semi-isolation of winter leaves a lot of potential for future installments to stir things up during the excitement of summer in this popular tourist destination.

The crisp, clean writing, superb editing and complex conspiracies involving real-estate tycoons, arsonists, and corrupt academics and politicians, make Ocean City Lowdownan action-packed thriller. While it takes some time to hit full stride, Kim Kash has written a resourceful and determined heroine in Jamie August. Ocean City Lowdown is fast-paced, well-crafted, edge-of-the-seat crime thriller to add to the summer reading list.

Fans of well-crafted crime and detective stories will enjoy Ocean City Lowdown with its
wise-cracking, not-by-the-book investigator. Put away the notion that this book is aimed at female readers. Anyone looking for the mild-mannered lady detective usually found in G-rated cozy-mysteries won't find her here - Jamie August is no wallflower and has no problem using her sexuality to get what she wants. She can hold her own in the hardboiled detective tradition.

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