Outsourced software engineer Jacob Martin is trying to make the best of a divorce and mid-life crisis when he gets a call at two o'clock Sunday morning from his mother. His sister has been arrested for murder, and his father is near death. Thus begins an adventure that takes Jake and his golden retriever from their Colorado retreat to a backwater town in the Missouri Ozarks where he gets on the wrong side of a sheriff deputy after hiring a crafty lawyer who gets Megan released on a technicality over a suicide note. Then, just as Jake is ready to go back home, she drops a bombshell with a story straight from a Louis L'Amour novel.
Protagonist Jake Martin (nickname Porky) is a McDonalds regular who gets by on odd jobs, drinks an enormous amount of beer, and suffers from a shrinking bladder and failing eyesight. He's generous, well-mannered, an aspiring novelist, and obviously smart--not exactly the hard-boiled sleuth one might expect in a mystery. He does not work alone. Always with him is Fred, his beloved golden retriever, the smartest dog since Lassie, who serves as a sort of assistant detective, early warning system, clue-finder, and ice-breaker.
In the course of his investigation Jake is stalked, run off the road, hospitalized, and loses his vehicle, money, and Visa card. The murder motive is connected with the Jesse James lost fortune myth. His investigative techniques include surveillance camera sabotage, illegal entry, computer hacking, and violation of federal laws concerning personal privacy. Jake's job is to put together all the pieces.
The writing is humorous and proficient, the relationships well-defined and enjoyable. The mystery itself is illusive until the very end, and so it is hard to put down for any length of time.