“One on One” by Michael Brandman is the second book in the. Buddy Steel Series. This easily book stands on its own, and a few paragraphs of narrative by Buddy, brings readers up to date. “Freedom, California, is a small, seaside community, located in San Remo County, halfway between Santa Barbara and San Francisco. It wasn’t the job that attracted me. It was the father/ son thing. We had never been close, Burton Steel, Senior, and me, B.S., Junior.” This is really all the history that new readers need.
Brandman develops a strong sense of place right at the start with descriptions that paint pictures for readers.
“The midday temperatures were in the low seventies. Feathery white clouds appeared and were quickly chased away by the insistent Diablo winds. A trio of young squirrels set up some kind of racket as they chased each other up and down the nearby trees. The air smelled of freshly cut wood.”
The story is Buddy’s first person account with conversation driven action. The narrative style is short, no nonsense, and to the point, but at the same time provides clear, detailed explanations when appropriate. The drama begins immediately when Buddy gets a call from the local school. “The late summer sun was making its steady ascent into a cloudless morning sky when my cell phone rang.” “Henry Carson.” “Who’s Henry Carson?” “Assistant Principal.” “Where?” “Freedom High.” “What about him?” “Well, for one thing, he’s dead.” “And for another?” “It appears he was murdered.”
Murder in this idyllic small town? Upsetting to say the least, but it was not just any murder but a specific, calculated, assassination. “Somebody took this guy out. In his office. Someone known to him. Premeditated violence like that doesn’t just happen. Somebody had a serious grievance. Let’s find out what it was and who it affected deeply enough to warrant murder.”
Brandman balances the small town connections while adding drama to advance the plot. Big city problems are intruding and small town politics threaten friendships. Buddy strives to solve not only the murder but also the other disquieting crimes.
I enjoyed this book. It was quick to read and very enjoyable. I was given a review copy of” One on One” by Michael Brandman, Poisoned Pen Press, and Ingram Publisher Services, and I liked this book because it is not just a “formula” series. Brandman moved both friends and family along in the storyline. In the end, the question for Buddy remains “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” He had not a clue, but he was home, at least for now. I cannot wait to see where the next chapter in Buddy’s life takes him.