misdirection book coverReviewed by Melanie Kline

Rusty Diamond, a burnt out magician has left the bright lights of Las Vegas to return to his hometown of Ocean City, Maryland.

He finds a kindly older woman who rents him a house for considerably less than the going rate. And since he hasn’t told anyone he’s back, he doesn’t exactly have references. Obviously, the landlady has a good heart. When Rusty’s landlady does not come by for the rent, he goes to her house to check on her and finds that she has been murdered by having her throat slashed.

Like a good citizen, he calls the police. When they arrive, they look him up and down and sideways (remember, life has not been kind to him in Vegas). Lucky for Rusty, a high-school acquaintance of his is a detective. Rusty is released and decides to investigate the murder himself. It’s not the smartest thing in the world, but if I had been accused falsely of murder, I can’t say I wouldn’t poke around scenes and suspects myself.

In the middle of the book Rusty does something that makes you wonder if Austin Williams has lost his mind or if you are still actually reading the same books. It’s a disappointing diversion and one that the story never quite recovers from.

Unfortunately, though, the rest of Misdirection is only a mediocre, by-the-numbers supermarket checkout novel, and suffers from the exact kinds of problems you would expect from such a book–stilted dialogue, uneven pacing, etc. The characters are like cardboard cutouts that project their “goodie” or “baddie” status from a mile away.

Overall, I was torn by this book–parts of it were very appealing yet parts of it were too terrible for words. I almost feel compelled to read it again to see if it’s any better the second time around. One thing I can say for certain is that the comparisons I keep seeing between this book and Harlan Coben are sorely misguided.

Rating: ★★½☆☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Diversion Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.