The detective novel is one of the most celebrated forms of mystery fiction — and one of the hardest to get right. So, when a great new series comes out, I tend to take notice and shout it from the rooftops.
Consider this me shouting about John McMahon’s P.T. Marsh series, which continued with his second novel, The Evil Men Do (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, March 3). McMahon’s debut, The Good Detective, was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. The winners will be announced on April 30.
Not only is P.T. Marsh a complicated character solving murders in Georgia, but his voice is unique, fun, and southern, which I tend to appreciate. But when it’s time for P.T. to be serious, and get angry, McMahon picks his spots with precision and great effect.
P.T. is still trying to recover from the tragic events of the first novel (don’t worry, The Evil Men Do reads great as a standalone) when an old friend and newly unretired temporary police chief calls them to investigate a friend who’d missed a weekly card game.
What appears to be an annoying welfare check turns out to be a murder with plenty of red herrings and a personal connection to the recent death of his family. That connection isn’t discovered until a great turn late in the story.
Oh, and from chapter one, we’re getting short scenes from an unnamed girl who’s being chased by one of the titular evil men. You figure out who both are in a superb reveal that refuses to adhere to traditional story structure in the best way.
Perhaps the best part of McMahon’s sophomore novel is that another engrossing story is waiting. This is a series I’ll be wrapped up in as thoroughly as Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, and hopefully for just as long.