Dakota Stevens is a modern detective for the modern mystery reader.
This is the third book in the Dakota Stevens Mystery series, though only the first book that I’ve read, but I never once felt that I had missed too much back story, or that I was lost. This is precisely how a book series should be written. This is not to say that what has come before takes no part in this book, I think it’s obvious that there are strong ties, but author Chris Orcutt fills us in, smoothly and naturally, on anything we need to know.
In A Truth Stranger Than Fiction, New York PI Dakota Stevens is hired by a teenage girl, Kelsey, to find her older brother, science fiction author E. Conover Wright. Conover (as he is referred to) was working on a new book, a non-fiction exposé, despite encouragement from his agent and his publisher to stick with the fiction. But is there something in Conover’s book worth killing for?
***WARNING — POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT — SPOILERS AHEAD IN VARIOUS PARAGRAPHS***
Kelsey’s visit brings Dakota, and his partner Svetlana Krüsh, into a face-paced world of espionage and intrigue with mobsters, politicians, Chinese gangs and North Dakota muscle all looking to get to Conover and Kelsey. Stevens and Krüsh race to find Conover first and to keep Kelsey out of the cross-hairs. Along the way, Kelsey and Svetlana get kidnapped, putting even more pressure on Dakota to find his missing person.
Author Orcutt has created some really nice characters, which is a big part of the charm of this book (and, presumably, the series). Dakota Stevens comes across as a classic tough-guy PI, but with a modern-man twist. He knows his limitations, and while he’ll push himself at every turn, he also won’t hesitate to call in help (he appears to have a number of friends in high places). His best help is Svetlana, a head-turning beauty with brains (she’s an international chess champion) and ingenuity. Svetlana’s father has ties to Russian organized crime and holds Dakota personally responsible if anything ever happens to his daughter.
The mystery that Orcutt weaves leads Dakota, and the reader, on a merry chase, with the mystery growing deeper with every little discovery that Dakota makes. This is precisely how a mystery should be written. There are fistfights and gunfights and executions, and everything that you would hope to find in a mystery/thriller. And … the stakes are high.
If you’ve read many of my reviews, you may know that I believe good storytelling keeps the stakes high … when there’s a lot on the line — when there’s a lot to lose — the more invested the characters (and subsequently the reader) will get. This plot has the high stakes and its extremely relevant to today.
The book left me breathless. It is a thrilling rollercoaster ride — almost too much. At the very beginning of the book I was a little skeptical as to whether or not this was going to be a worthwhile read. Shortly after Kelsey’s appearance, Dakota’s office is surrounded by gunmen and Dakota assists the teenager in rappelling down the side of the building to get away. The moment did push some credibility with me, and I was fearful that the rest of the book would feature similar over-the-top moments. Fortunately, the book settled down and became quite real the rest of the way.
This book really was a wonderful ‘find’ for me. I look forward to reading the first two book in the series as well as any future adventure.
Looking for a good book? If you like mystery/thrillers, Dakota Stevens is a Private Investigator you will want to become familiar with, and A Truth Stranger Than Fiction, by Chris Orcutt, is a book you must read.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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A Truth Stranger Than Fiction
author: Chris Orcutt
publisher: Have Pen, Will Travel
paperback, 396 pages