DOUG ALLYN – Icewater Mansions. Michelle Mitchell #1. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1995; paperback, 1996.

   Allyn is the author of two novels about a Hispanic Detroit policeman, and numerous short stories. His “real” job is musician in a rock band. I’ve read one of his previous novels, Motown Underground, and had mixed reactions.

   Michelle “Mitch” Mitchell is an underwater welder for oil rigs on the Texas Gold Coast, or at least she has been. Now she’s back in her hometown on the Northern Michigan coast of Lake Huron, straightening out the affairs of her estranged father who died in a recent auto accident, She’d intended to sell the saloon he owned and then go back to Texas, but questions keep arising about the way he died, and pieces of her old life keep bobbing to the surface — including the father of her child back in boarding school.

   The previous Allyn book I read had some decent hard-boiled prose, but I never liked the characters enough to get involved in the story. With this one, I did. Mitchell is a tough, appealing heroine, and Allyn di d a good job with the supporting cast as well.

   The prose was lean and direct, ad there was a good feel for the cold, hard country the story was set in. The novel won’t get nominated for any awards, but it was a good story, well told.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #20, June-July 1995.

Bibliographic Update:   The Detroit policean Barry was referring to in the first paragraph of this review was Lupe Garcia, who appeared in just the two novels he mentioned, Motown Underground being one of them. Icewater Mansionsw was the first of three cases tackled by Michelle Mitchell. I’ll list them below.

   Allyn is much better known as a short story writer than as a novelist, with over 120 of them to his credit. From one online source: “[Allyn’s] first published story won the Robert L. Fish Award from Mystery Writers of America and subsequent critical response has been equally remarkable. He has won the coveted Edgar Allen Poe Award twice, (nine nominations) seven Derringer Awards for novellas, and the Ellery Queen Readers’ Award an unprecedented eleven times.”

      The Michelle Mitchell series —

Icewater Mansions. St Martin’s, 1995.
Black Water. St. Martin’s, 1996.
A Dance in Deep Water. St. Martin’s, 1997.