Tuesday, May 10, 2011

SOUND PROOF Brings Murder to a Pastoral Setting

I just finished SOUND PROOF, a mystery by Chicago author Barbara Gregorich. The book is the second in a series starring Frank Dragovic, a Chicago PI who is dragged to the country to investigate the mysterious goings-on at Midwest Music Madness, a folk festival with an assortment of eccentric musicians. One of those musicians is a thief, and Dragovic needs to find him or her.

Dragovic is not unused to the country; when he was a child, he tells the audience through a first-person narration, he was sent to the country every summer, learning to appreciate what was produced by the land, and to admire a structure as simple as a barn: "Massive. Permanent. A shelter for animals, harvest and humans. A place warm with the smell of living creatures and the gentle tang of cured hay."

Dragovic has some poetic moments like this, especially when he talks about the land, but in general he narrates with the terseness of a man who is observing rather than talking: he is a watchful man until the moment is right, and then he is a man of action.

Gregorich's PI is a likeable and believable investigator, and her setting, filled with country air and folk music created by hammered dulcimers, hurdy gurdys, autoharps, fiddles and banjos, is refreshingly different.

I look forward to the next Dragovic mystery, especially because I need to know what will happen in his relationship with his girlfriend Suzanne. Even with the promise of a relationship, Dragovic retains some of the loneliness that always seems to cling to the American P.I.

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