BANK ROLL: A MAX STRYKER MYSTERY
by Janet Elaine Smith
STAR PUBLISH (May 4, 2007[192 Pages]), $16.95
Wanted Immediately: reporter And Editor to run successful small town newspaper. Owner/pub retiring.
Maxine Stryker is a crime reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, until the announcement comes on the news that the Knight Ridder newspaper chain has been sold. When Max receives her pink slip, she makes a drastic decision; to go home and work for the local newspaper, something she had promised herself that she would never, ever do. Nothing more exciting than happened in Willow Creek then when the moose ran over Pete Bjornson. That's quite a step down for her.
Not to mention that, when she arrives, she's cast right into the middle of the mayhem. It seems that someone in the town has kidnapped the bank president. The only big problem, as Max gets caught up in this mystery, and has to deal with the FBI getting in the way as well, is who in the town did not have a motive to kidnap and ransom the womanizing bank president. Some folks are even surprised that he wasn't just killed outright, rather than ransomed.
This story has several layers that catch and hold your attention, or at least, caught mine. ;-) The townsfolk are colorful enough to draw you in, and some of them could even be your own neighbors. Not that they are, of course, especially not the moose. The ensuing mayhem has the FBI chasing the most obvious suspects, but Max grew up with these people and knows them a bit better then some guys from DC. She does quite a bit of digging, of the type you could only do in a small town where everyone knows one another. Still, with Max coming back from the "big city", there's a viewpoint that could appeal to everyone.
The ending itself twists several degrees, so it can catch you by surprise, especially when the entire town is a suspect. Well, those who were actually in the town at the time of the kidnapping.