Tuesday, November 9, 2010


A murder mystery built around storm sewer inspections? It works!  Aileen Schumacher's Affirmative Reaction is a good book.

Engineer Tory Travers finds a body while inspecting the storm sewers in an abandoned project.  The project is about to be rejuvenated. Fifteen years ago, crooked government employees finagled permits. 

The thing that makes this situation different is that they finagled the permits, not to get an inferior project built, but to get an acceptable project derailed.  And it worked. They got the project stopped.  The minority contractor went bankrupt and committed suicide.  Other contractors benefited.  And all of this led to several crimes.

This book taught me all kinds of things about how crooked governments work.  It also taught me that engineering is not a neutral task.  No matter how objectively it is done, some people benefit and some suffer. 

It all comes down to money, the perfect motive for murder.

There were four books in the Tory Travers/David Alverez series. 

I first read about them in the online edition of Mystery Scene MagazineMystery Scene Magazine had a short interview with the author Aileen Schumacher.   Schumacher has no plans, at least in the short term, to write more mystery novels.

I ordered all four books from used book outlets. This is the first I have read.

If this were an automobile review with a points/counterpoints list, I'd list one counterpoint for this book.  Tory's costar, police detective David Alvarez, is an unlikable male chauvinist.  That's the only thing I found difficult with the book.  I did not like David Alverez or the way he treated Tory.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the book.  Our son is a chemical engineer involved in research.  I thought it would be interesting to read a mystery with an engineer as the hero, and it was.


Paul D. Brazill said...

Sounds good!

Joe Barone said...

You were quick. I was still sprucing up this entry and your comment appeared.

This was a good book. If you run across it (or one of the other three) sometime, you might want to give it a try.

Joe Barone said...

I thought I might make another little comment. When I talked about sprucing up this entry--I don't like the preview function on Blogger. I write a post, publish it, and then correct it from the published entry. For some reason, I see mistakes more clearly in the published entry than on the rough draft screen.

That doesn't mean I don't make some mistakes. I'm getting older!

Paul D. Brazill said...

Oh, I always do that. Typos R Us!

Cathy said...

Thanks for the heads up on this series. I've just ordered one of them from Paperback Swap.

Joe Barone said...

I just got the last of the ones I ordered from used book houses. It is the first in the series, so from this time I plan to read the three I have left in order.

George said...

I'll look for this. Sounds interesting.

Joe Barone said...

It was interesting. It is the first mystery novel I've read with an engineer protagonist.