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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

‘A Welcome Murder’ By Robin Yocum

Published by Seventh Street Books,
17 April 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-63388-263-8 (PB)

This novel is a mystery wrapped in a series of character studies set in Steubenville, OH, a small town, once the center of the steel-making industry in the Ohio Valley. Each has a dream and each faces roadblocks in fulfilling the desired outcome.  The mystery is the murder of a local ne’er-do-well, Rayce Daubner, and plays a crucial role in the lives of the six persons through whom the plot is unveiled in alternating chapters devoted to just one, told in the first person.

There is Johnny Earl, the greatest athlete ever to graduate from the local high school, who.dreams of a big league baseball career, but learns he lacks the ability, relgated to the minors and eventually blows a knee, turning to peddling drugs in Pittsburgh, only to be convicted and sent to prison for seven years after having been set up by the murder victim.  Francis Roberson decides as a youngster he is going to be President and goes on to become a star FBI agent before returning to Steubenville to begin a political career as an elected sheriff.  His wife, Allison, detests the small town and hopes he pursues his ambition to run for Congress and later for Governor, so she can escape for broader horizons.  Beautiful Dena Marie Conchek Androski Xenakus, homecoming queen, who is oft married or bedded by most. Her husband, Vincent “Smoochie” Xenakis, picked upon his entire life until he is accused of the murder and then becomes an aggressive individual. And lastly, Toots Majowski, Roberson’s deputy, a key player in bringing it all together.

Johnny and Smoochie are the obvious candidates for murderer, the former because the victim testified against him in his trial, the latter because the murdered man was having a torrid affair with his wife.  Even the sheriff was a candidate since he was being blackmailed by Rayce.  There are one or two red herrings along toward the end of the book, but few clues give the reader a chance to figure out the surprising choice as the killer.  It is fast-reading, well-written and enjoyable, and is highly recommended.
Reviewer: Theodore Feit

Robin Yocum was born in 1955 in Steubenville, Ohio, and grew up in the in the Eastern Ohio village of Brilliant. He is an award-winning journalist and the author of the 2017 Edgar® Award-nominated A Brilliant Death. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed novels Favorite Sons and The Essay as well as Dead Before Deadline... and Other Tales from the Police Beat and Insured for Murder (with Catherine Candisky). The president of Yocum Communications, a public relations and marketing firm in Westerville, Ohio, Yocum is well known for his work as a crime and investigative reporter with the Columbus Dispatch from 1980-1991. He was the recipient of more than thirty local, state, and national journalism awards in categories ranging from investigative reporting to feature writing.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

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