a.j. stewart

Review of ‘Three Strikes’

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If you’re a fan of A.J. Stewart’s ‘Miami Jones’ mysteries, you need to read the prequel, Three Strikes as soon as it’s available for sale. I received a free review copy of this book, which gives the early history of baseball player turned PI, Miami Jones.

Miami, while a student at Miami University, and a member of its championship baseball team, is playing in the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. He meets the beautiful and enigmatic Kate Milne, daughter of a general who is commander of a sensitive Air Force base. Miami and Kate become involved, but he soon learns that she’s involved in some super-secret activity that could get Miami involved in treason.

Stewart, with his Elmore Leonard style of writing, takes us through Miami’s career from college to the Oakland A’s, all the while weaving Kate and her activities in and out of his life until a final confrontation in south Florida involving a scheming politician and the byzantine activities of manipulators inside the Washington Beltway during the second Gulf War.

An expert’s look inside baseball, and a sharp eye for the goings on of politicians and spies marks this introduction to the series. If you’ve read any of the others in the series, you’ll love this back story – and if this is your introduction to Miami Jones, you’ll be hooked for life. Great writing, fascinating characters, and a plot full of more twists than the roller coasters at Disney World. A five star romp by one of the best mystery writers around. This one definitely needs to be on the market!

Review of ‘Stiff Arm Steal’

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BJ Baker is a retired pro football player who has become wealthy and influential in Palm Beach, Florida. So, when someone steals his Heisman Trophy, he uses his pull to get the PBPD and the county sheriff’s department to investigate. For good measure, he hires former pro athlete turned PI Miami Jones and his friends to help get his trophy back. Jones teams up with sheriff’s deputy Danielle Castle in what both view as a waste of resources that could be better used helping people in real need, until more Heisman’s start getting snatched. The more they dig into the incidents the more confusing and potentially dangerous it becomes.

I received a free review copy of A.J. Stewart’s Stiff Arm Steal, another in his Miami Jones mystery series. Stewart, who writes in a style reminiscent of Elmore Leonard – who also set  his stories in Florida – does a masterful job of leading readers down many false trails before zigging back and zeroing in on the real culprit. At the risk of spoiling the story, the thief turns out to be the last person you’d expect it to be. Gritty, and often humorous dialogue will make you laugh at the same time that the absolutely dead-on descriptions of people, places and events will make you cry.

Stewart’s stories are quick reads – as any good mystery should be in my opinion – that always leave you wanting more. A good way to entice you to read the next in the series. I await it anxiously. Four stars for Stiff Arm Steal.

Review of ‘Offside Trap’

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Private investigator Miami Jones is asked by an old friend, the athletic director at a college in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to look into the case of a student athlete who suffered a drug overdose, it’s at first just a way to get at the facts to keep the college president from tanking the school’s sports program. The more Jones digs into the case, though, the more worms come crawling from under every stone that he turns over.

Offside Trap by A.J. Stewart is a Florida-based mystery in the Elmore Leonard tradition, with action coming at you at every turn. It has political corruption, big-time drug dealing, and enough the kind of violence that only the Sunshine State can provide.

I received a free review copy of this novel, and spent an interesting rainy morning reading – and, couldn’t put it down. It had a couple of places early on where the dialogue was confusing – couldn’t tell who was talking without reading it three times – but that didn’t keep it from being a great read. Looking forward to more Miami Jones’ exploits.

Stewart gets four stars for this one.