After working for 22 years as a professor at Sacramento State University, Ray Courage retired and set out to become a private investigator. In order to get his license he needs 4,000 hours of paid intern work, and has signed on at California Farmers Insurance. His boss gives him a cold case involving the death of a wealthy real estate agent, Tiffanie Bate, who died of carbon monoxide poisoning along with her lover. Although the company suspected foul play, in light of her husband having taken out a $1.5 million policy on her life shortly before she died, he has an iron clad alibi, and the police are calling the death accidental.
In Courage Begins, a novella introducing Ray Courage, written by R. Scott Mackey, the reader follows Ray as, with the help of his former student and ex-gangbanger, Rubia, he digs up ghosts that someone wants to be left buried. Ray knows that he’s on to something when the town drunk swears that he saw the husband near the crime scene the night of the death—despite video evidence placing him at a very public event many miles away. When someone tries to get him to drop the case, using the same method that killed Tiffanie, Ray knows he’s on to something. The question, though, is whether or not he can prove it before he becomes the next victim.
Pithy dialogue and on-the-mark narrative descriptions, along with a good mixture of humor and horror, mark Courage Begins as a must-read book for mystery fans. I received a free copy of this introductory novella in exchange for my review. A five-star book!