I had never read any books by Mark Arsenault, so when I received a copy of this book from St. Martins Minotaur unexpectedly, I was curious. I did some research and discovered that LOOT THE MOON is Arsenault's second in a mystery series featuring Billy Povich, a down on his luck ex-investigative journalist now working the night shift writing obituaries for a Providence, Rhode Island newspaper. When he's not there, he can sometimes be found at the local dog track betting money he doesn't have.
The first book in this fast-paced mystery series is GRAVEWRITER, which was released in late 2006. Some early reviews I read about this second installment indicated that LOOT THE MOON could also be considered a stand alone novel. I was glad to hear that as this was my first Arsenault book.
In LOOT THE MOON, Billy Povich is approached by his friend Martin Sommers, a lawyer he used to do some investigative work for. Martin's mentor and a Superior Court Judge has been murdered and though the police have wrapped the case up, Martin feels there is more to the story and asks Povich to see what he can dig up. The man police say killed the judge, a low level thief, was also killed during the murder and it all seems just a little too convenient to Martin. There are facts that come to light that just don't add up. A few weeks before the judge was killed, he sentenced a local mob boss's son to life in prison and a public threat was made against his life. There's also the fact that the judge apparently was living a double life that his wife and son didn't know about. Then there is the judges brother, who is also a judge, but not as successful, who is sick and tired of living in his brother's shadow and is contesting the will. There's too many unanswered questions and Billy agrees to help his friend and soon finds his own life in danger, which tells him he must be getting close to the truth.
One of the things I liked about LOOT THE MOON is that it didn't matter that I hadn't read the first book in the series. The characters were easy to get to know and there weren't so many that it was hard to keep up with. I find that some mysteries have so many characters I get lost trying to keep them straight. That didn't happen here. Another reason I liked it is Mark Arsenault gets right into the meat of the story and you're off! It was fast-paced, kept my attention and was not unrealistic. The writing was smart and even had me chuckling at times at the wit. There's a personal story happening in Billy's life at the same time he's trying to figure out the mystery, and that balances out the book nicely.
The story is told from a few character's perspectives, which helps to get to know them, but is mostly told through Billy's eyes. The plot was very well thought out and kept me guessing until the end. All in all, I found this to be a very satisfying and entertaining mystery that I look forward to continiuing.
I will definitely be reading GRAVEWRITER very soon and I will be keeping up with this series. I like that the mystery was wrapped up in the end, but still allows Billy's story to continue. I think there will be many more interesting stories for Billy Povich to write.
Visit Mark Arsenault's website to learn more about his books and to read the first chapter of LOOT THE MOON.
Author: Mark Arsenault
Publisher: St. Martins Minotaur
Published: October 2009
Rating: 4 Stars out of 5