NO WAY TO DIE by M.D. Grayson is the second in his Danny Logan Mystery series. While it is an enjoyable excursion into the world of PI’s, I did experience some problems along the way.
The protagonist in this yarn is Danny Logan, a private detective that heads his own agency called, appropriately enough, Logan Private Investigations. In this story, Logan tackles what caused the death of mathematical genius Thomas Rasmussen. Rasmussen had ostensibly gone to Seattle’s Discovery Park for a morning run, but was found dead in his car—with one bullet through his head. With no signs of foul play, there’s even a note in Rasmussen’s own handwriting left at the scene stating his reasons for committing suicide. Using the “if it walks like a duck” case-solving methodology, homicide detective Inez Johnson is convinced it’s a pretty much an open-and-shut case, but Katherine Rasmussen, Thomas’ wife, disagrees. Katherine has grave doubts about the conclusion that her husband took his own life and hires Danny Logan to find out if her instincts are right.
NO WAY TO DIE documents the investigation, and in the course of it, we learn about Thomas Rasmussen and his company called Applied Cryptographic Solutions, ACS to people in the know. We also meet Rasmussen’s right-hand skank, oops, I mean, “associate” called Holly Kenworth. Then there’s something called the Starfire Protocol. Didn’t I tell you Rasmussen was a mathematical genius? Well, the Starfire Protocol is his baby. He and a handful of employees have been working on the top secret technology for years, but rumors about its potential game-changing attributes have leaked out into the cyberworld of geeks. How could it not? If implemented, this program would make all known PK (private key) cryptology key management obsolete. And in case you don’t know what that means either, this code is the security that keeps your info safe and out of bad guy’s hands. Bad guys like Nicholas Madoc, I might add.
As the tale progresses, we also find out more about Danny Logan, his compadres, lifestyle and obsession with Tony Blair. No, not that Tony Blair. This one is his associate Antoinette Blair. He’s been carrying a torch for her for years and there’s nothing worse than unrequited passion to drive you crazy and impair your judgment. It perhaps accounts for the incredibly poor judgment that Logan demonstrates throughout this novel and it’s one of the reasons I’m not more enthused about this book.
I don’t do SPOILERS. I don’t, but this is one case where I’m tempted to give a few secrets away. Why? Well, because Logan does so many incredibly stupid things that I wonder why people keep coming to him for anything other than guitar lessons. While I think M.D. Grayson is a talented author, this type of deviation from what Logan is purported to be makes for an inconsistent read. Consequently, there are patches of reading that are about as good as you can get, but then you come to one of these hare-brained decisions and you just sort of blurt out to no one in particular, “Why the heck would anyone in their right mind do that?" It makes for a pretty spotty plotting and completely pulls you out of the mood of the story. And there are at least three notable bone-head moves that make you go hmmmmm. Without giving anything away, they are:
1. Tell a possible suspect where the device that Rasmussen very well may have died for is being kept.
2. Not check out a suspect’s story. I mean, he’s investigating, right? So why would he take somebody’s word for what happened when he could actually find out if it’s the truth?
3. Walk in on a situation when he could have easily called for back-up—or even the police. And he’s a military guy? And he’s never heard of teamwork? Really?
The answer to these and other life’s questions is, and I’m guessing here, that M.D. Grayson has a plot-driven story going on. All these three extremely unlikely situations occur because they set up incidents that happen later on. But if an author has gone on for about twenty pages lauding someone’s professionalism and credentials, you can’t turnaround and have this same guy make potentially fatal mistakes because he’s an imbecile. If you want to make him an idiot, than do so and be done with it, but this wavering back and forth doesn’t cut it. And I’d like to quickly add that the climax of one of these faux pas is a pretty good twist, but a writer should always have their characters get themselves into situations and dig themselves out of it. When writers try to manipulate action, it comes off as disingenuous and ruins the picture they’re trying to paint. And there were other ways of setting up the incendiary moments other than have your main character have these rather large brain synapses.
All in all, I enjoyed NO WAY TO DIE and understand all the good reviews and fans that M.D. Grayson has attracted. I definitely would recommend. I very much appreciate his attention to detail, and except for the problems mentioned, NO WAY TO DIE is a good read. I most especially loved the location and the wonderful descriptions of Seattle. I found it easy to sink into this setting. The characters themselves are also interesting, but because of the three very questionable actions of Logan and the unevenness of the writing, I’m giving NO WAY TO DIE a final score of 3.7 stars which rounds up to four.