As I write this review of the fourth book of the Donovan: Thief for Hire series, I reflect back on how Three Wrongs was one of the first books I reviewed for The Miramichi Reader. I liked it very much, due to Mr. Bowie’s character development of Sean Donovan the professional thief for hire, which was top-notch and Sean’s personality only grew with each installment of the series. (To see all previous Thief for Hire book reviews and an author interview, click here.)
Now, the fourth (but not final!) book The Body on the Underwater Road has been released by Muse It Up Publishing. The “underwater road” in question is very genuine. It is in New Brunswick and connects the mainland at Chamcook Harbour to Minister’s Island, and it can be traversed by foot or car when the tide is out. The body is that of Tricia Parker, ex-wife of Nick, who sent her packing years ago after discovering her profligate ways. This left Nick to raise their only child Riley, who is now a young woman about to start a career in the hospitality industry. Meanwhile, back in the Niagara Escarpment, Sean Donovan, retired thief and the new owner of Plenitude Winery, has been the victim of the theft of some grape vines and his wine vats may have been tampered with, and it looks like an inside job.
Old friends of Nick’s (the Whiteways, the Minnesota couple who made their appearance in Steal It All) call on Sean to help the local police to solve the murder. Sean, who wants to protect his investment, naturally is reluctant to leave the winery so he sends Jack Miller, his head of security and retired RCMP officer. However, another body soon turns up, that of Nick’s sketchy third cousin Harry, and Sean, realizing he desperately needs Jack’s crime-solving expertise back at the winery, flies out east with Beth to look into the developing situation.
While crime thrillers are not my most favourite of genres, books like the Thief for Hire series make for some good escapism. Mr. Bowie may disagree with me, but I say the entire series should be read from the beginning. You could pick one up at random and start reading – and have no problem doing so – but in order to understand the reoccurring characters and their backgrounds, start at the beginning with Three Wrongs. (They are all available as ebooks and are less than CAN$7.00 each at Amazon. See below*.)
One thing that I acknowledged about Sean Donovan was his desire for solitude and for working alone in his past as a thief. It was a difficult choice for him to take Beth into his confidence and try to leave it all behind. Now, he has not only a legitimate business, but he has to manage a team of people now. He ponders in the night:
Donovan rose and sat in the chair facing the window and stared at the darkness on the other side of the screen. Three thoughts tumbled around in his mind, connected, yet in contradiction to one another. The first, most recent thought was he had got married. After a life mostly spent in solitude, he’d made a decision to link all of his actions to another. Could this reversal in his past approach to life ever be reconciled with the solitude he’d built? Because, being half of a team was still…alien to him, at the moment. He glanced over to the bed where his incandescent life partner lay, unaware.
In solving the murders, he mainly acts alone, but Beth is profoundly involved. There were moments when I wished she had stayed back at the winery, and let Sean handle events himself. As an aside, one character from the past that I was hoping would put in an appearance was Gemma Trask from New Scotland Yard. Now there’s a woman of action! But I digress. Previous installments of the series had Donovan travelling the globe, and the Underwater Road is an exception in that 95% of the story is in Canada, with the remainder in New York state and Maine, so a certain exotic feel is missing here. Nevertheless, Mr. Bowie is a good Ambassador for New Brunswick (particularly the St. Andrews area) and Ontario’s wine regions. And a good writer. It will be interesting in what direction book five takes. Perhaps Asia? South America? The Orient? The answers lie within Mr. Bowie’s innovative cranial vault.
The Body on the Underwater Road by Chuck Bowie
Muse It Up Publishing
*Please note if you choose to purchase the ebook through Amazon using the link below I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!