“This man’s life and knowledge from experience, his diligent diving into his subject make him an author who possesses the foremost element a reader demands: Buz Sawyers is an in-control authority on what he writes. he is fast approaching bestsellerdom — not a brag or kudo of a blog or comment, but a fact by way of just such skill in approach as mentioned here…”
“I grabbed the bottle of Jack Daniels by the neck, an extra .38, along with a small .25 caliber, and ankle holster I kept in there, and then returned to my office.”
The smart-mouthed private eye has been a fixture in detective fiction for decades. Despite his stereotypical bad manners, salty speech, male chauvinism, and penchant for cheap suits and straight whiskey, this cocky character in his seemingly infinite incarnations has achieved an iconic and beloved status in the genre. Of course, most competent writers only use the type as a starting point for their protagonists, adding individual personality quirks and vices to make their characters memorable. Sawyers has done the same, beginning with the stock material of the jaded, ex-cop to create Harry Stumbaugh, a stocky, graying, and gimpy hero who is a worthy addition to the private investigator club.
Like in so many other books about hard-boiled detectives, the story starts off with a potential client coming to Harry’s office. Senator John Doe is in trouble. A supposed victim of amnesia, Doe has made quite a life for himself over the last twenty years since a bump on the head reportedly took away his memory. Now someone is attempting to blackmail him with information that claims to link the senator to an old unsolved robbery that resulted in two homicides. Harry is not sure he believes everything Doe is telling him or even that he can’t remember his past, but he is still willing to look into the matter. The $10,000 the senator is offering for him to take the case doesn’t hamper his motivation either. As Harry’s investigation progresses he begins to reveal a complex game that connects corrupt cops to crime bosses, but as he comes closer to the truth a sadistic killer starts to remove some of the key players from the board. Will Harry become one of his victims?
The author does an excellent job of recreating the feel and atmosphere of hard-boiled detective fiction, complete with the requisite strong language, grisly murder scenes, witty dialogue, and attractive women. Set in Dallas during the early 1950s, Sawyers meticulously describes the downtown area of the period, staging meetings in the legendary Adolphus Hotel and even having his private eye’s office in the recently-demolished Praetorian Building. He also tosses in an encounter with Jack Ruby and a few references to Lyndon B. Johnson to increase the sense of time and place. His detective is true to form, as well. Intriguingly, despite the fact that on the first page Harry is reading a Perry Mason novel, Sawyers’ detective is more like Earl Stanley Gardner’s other protagonist, Donald Lam, in personality than his famous lawyer character. Another classic element that the author makes sure to include in his story is the host of loyal friends that surround his detective. Ever since the days of the pulps, heroes like Harry have been supported by a cast of characters on both sides of the law that they have managed to help along the way. Harry’s sometimes rocky friendships with the Mafia boss Giovanni Gamboa, Detective DeRita, and Sam Wolfkill are all typical of the genre.
Sawyers’ background as a teacher of writing on the college level is obvious in his skillful handling of the plot and pace of his novel. The book’s well-developed atmosphere, engaging storyline, and likeable characters make it hard to put down.
Congratulations on your new book! Kay Young sent out the notice. Were you in Mr. Dickey’s English class senior year? I, too, write and teach for a living; haven’t braved novels yet.
Take care and good luck with your new book.
Anne Ray Streeter
No Point in Dying Now gives a realistic view of the horrific nature of the Civil War. Superb character development, colorful language, dialect, and authentic family letters add depth, excitement, and validity to a storyline that will spark the interest of even the most reluctant reader. No Point in Dying Now would be an effective teaching tool in any literature or history classroom.
No Point in Dying Now is one of those unusual books that has appeal for all readers — young and old, male and female. As a teacher, I’m always looking for books that will hook the boys. As a reader, I’m always looking for books where I can get close to the characters. This book has both.
This book delivers! Anyone intrigued by clear insights into the details of the daily rigors and horrors of the Civil War battlefields makes Buz Sawyers’ No point in Dying Now a must read.
I found No Point in Dying Now to be a captivating book with very memorable characters. Buz Sawyers has a knack for descriptive language that makes the past really come alive.
No Point in Dying Now is a rich and fascinating combination of history, heart, and pain on both sides of the Civil War battlefield. In this volume, author Buz Sawyers has performed the hard sought magic of effectively merging education with entertainment. A great read!
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