City Problems”

Big-city trauma comes to small-town Ohio

Ed Runyon is the sheriff in small-town rural Ohio. He moved there to escape a traumatic past and is happy to just calmly and dispassionately break up weekend bar fights. The narrative continues in his first person conversations. He talks directly to readers in a professional, matter-of-fact cadence. He is a no-nonsense kind of guy, takes no backtalk, and just wants to uphold the law.

Things change when Detective Shelly Beckworth from Columbus arrives to search for a girl who vanished after party. The clues to her disappearance are few, but what there are, point to Mifflin County; Beckworth wants Runyon’s help. The missing person case suddenly turns into a complicated murder investigation, and Runyon struggles to find answers. Every clue unearthed brings more complications and dredges up haunting memories from his past.

The pace is focused and deliberate. Conversations move the plot along, and everyday events are interspersed throughout the story. Readers get a comprehensive picture of Runyon with his dedication to duty, a down-home Buckeye sense of humor, and the sometimes burning desire for retribution.  Short, abrupt sentences create a feel of both urgency and tragedy. The plot increases in intensity as the case unfolds, and events become complex and very dramatic.

I received a review copy of “City Problems” from Steve Goble and Oceanview Publishing. This is the first book in the new “Ed Runyon Mystery” series. It effectively establishes the main characters and sets the stage for future compelling stories in Mifflin County, Ohio.