A turning point in Nagler 5, told in 15 sentences:
“The storm never came.
The promise of the storm had arrived.
Muscular clouds pressed gloom below the hilltops.
Trickster winds flipped the fall’s last leaves from wet grass to the shoulder of a passing mourner, then to stick on the darkened glass of the Cadillac hearse from Madison’s Funeral Home.
A taste of ice, a few crystalline snowflakes.
But the storm had not come.
A silence, deep, the lines of shuffled feet settled.
Shoulders shivered as the long blue line of Ironton police officers held their places with white-gloved salutes as the casket of Captain Bernard Langdon was lowered into the ground.
Then Taps, the shouted mourning, warbling in the wind.
No one heard the shot.
No one saw Mayor Jesus Ollivar lean forward against the podium, then fall to the ground.
They all heard the scream and turned.
Detective Frank Nagler, positioned away from the line of officers, traced a possible line of sight up the hill past the War Memorial to the dark trees.
He thought he saw movement.”
What reviewers say about THE RED HAND:
“The Red Hand” is a prequel to the outstanding mystery novel series featuring Detective Frank Nagler. In this book, author Michael Stephen Daigle creates a terrific standalone novel that also serves as a nice set-up for what happens in the already-released novels.
I really like the idea of writing a series of books about a character in the middle of their journey, but then writing a new book to go back in time and fill in some of the blanks to give insight regarding how the characters (particularly the protagonist) got to where they are now. In “The Red Hand” Frank Nagler is a newly minted detective who’s initially over his head in dealing with his first case. It’s a big one: nine murder victims in the space of a few months in the hardscrabble town of Ironton, New Jersey. Ironton is also the town where Nagler grew up, so he knows a lot of the characters already. This fact and the author’s vivid description of the town add to the foreboding atmosphere throughout the novel.
The protagonist detective is easy to root for. About twenty-five percent of the way through the book he thinks, When do I begin to figure all this out? He has no special gifts other than his dogged nature and decency. But he hangs in there and works hard to solve the mystery. The ending is well done and satisfying. Add the other rich characters in the story plus the significant challenges Nagler must deal with in his personal life and you have a total winner. Highly recommended.