Tue 21 Mar 2017
by Kathleen L. Maio
RICK BOYER – Billingsgate Shoal. Doc Adams #1. Houghton Miff|in, hardcover, 1982. Warner Books, paperback, 1985; Fawcett, paperback, 1989.
Rick Boyer won an Edgar for this, his first mystery novel — deserved recognition for a complex suspense novel set in coastal and suburban Massachusetts.
Charles (“Doc”) Adams is a medical doctor turned oral surgeon. He is middle-aged, affluent, happily married, and intensely dissatisfied with his life. His depression and insomnia are symptoms of his mid-life crisis. The cure is worse than the disease, however, as Doc is thrown headlong into a very violent adventure. It starts with an early-morning sighting of a stranded fishing vessel on the title shoal, continues with the death of a young scuba diver who tries to check out the boat for Adams, and eventually escalates to a kill-or-die confrontation between Doc and the villains.
Billingsgate Shoal has a little bit of everything for everybody. There is hidden treasure, political intrigue, and a murder mystery. There is even a good deal of gore for those who like their thrillers tough and bloody. But it is the believable and very personable voice of Boyer’s amateur sleuth that makes even the more outrageous elements of his plot come together in a way that seems realistic and truly suspenseful.
Boyer’s second novel, The Penny Ferry (1984), a case focusing on present-day evidence of the guilt/innocence of Sacco and Vanzetti, is proof that Boyer’s talents are substantial and that Doc Adams has staying power as series sleuth.
Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007. Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.
The Doc Adams series —
Billingsgate Shoal (1982)
The Penny Ferry (1984)
The Daisy Ducks (1986)
Moscow Metal (1987)
The Whale’s Footprints (1988)
Gone to Earth (1990)
Yellow Bird (1991)
Pirate Trade (1994)
The Man Who Whispered (1998)