Red Means Run by Brad Smith: Review

Oh, this was a FUN mystery! Lots of red herrings and a kick-ass lady cop.

Virgil Cain is charged with spectacularly murdering the lawyer who defended the man who killed his wife. Spectacular because the guy got it with a golf club shaft through the heart. Ouch. Virgil is the only person-of-interest and guilty in the eyes of Officer Joe Brady. Fellow officer Claire Marchand isn't quite as convinced. There are some things that don't add up.

Virgil sees that the way things are going, he'll be in prison before anyone can shout, "Fore!" At the moment, he's in custody and it doesn't look like he'll be free anytime soon. With police eyeballing him as the murderer, he figures the only person who can clear his name is himself. As soon as he's able, he wiggles himself away from the cops and is on the run.

There were so many things I liked about Red Means Run by Brad Smith. First, the characters. Virgil is a former baseball player turned farmer just trying to make ends meet. His deceased wife was a girl with big dreams until she was murdered by a record producer. With the trial over, Virgil gets back to cutting hay and reluctantly taking care of abused horses. Virgil is that strong silent type. He's slow to anger and thinks everything through. It's his demeanor that first tips Claire off that this might not be the guy they're looking for.

Claire is the smart, sexy, yet tender cop determined to get to the bottom of things. Virgil would be the best suspect and Joe Brady isn't looking too much farther. Claire doesn't like Joe anyway or the way he's handled the case for that matter. She wants real evidence, not the circumstantial stuff they have so far. As the story progresses, the sparks between Virgil and Claire glow and there is some witty repartee near the end that had me laughing. Brad Smith knows how to create chemistry on the page.

The mystery was fast paced with subplots involving abused horses and an angry vet, more murders, a crooked businessman, a killer's parents, and a congresswoman looking toward retirement. All these stories weave in and out of Virgil's leaving me wondering who really killed the lawyer as I raced to the end.

Not only did I appreciate the strong female characters, I also enjoyed the Canadian references. Virgil is a Canadian living in the US. In fact, the title comes from a Neil Young song.

The only criticism I have is that I thought the end was abrupt. Also I was a bit skeptical about a few things. However, that's mysteries for you. You have to suspend disbelief somewhat.

This is the first Virgil Cain mystery and I can't wait to read more.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada for the review copy.





  1. I've never heard of this book or this author but you've made them both sound wonderful.


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