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THE KEY TO UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY SEEMS TO BE A STRANGE OLD VICTORIAN-STYLE HOUSE. BOLENDER'S WIDOW, A RICH, SEDUCTIVE SOCIALITE NAMED MAGGIE BOLENDER, WAS NOT EVEN AWARE THAT HER HUSBAND OWNED THE HOUSE. WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON BEHIND THE DOORS OF THE MYSTERIOUS HOUSE? FINDING THE ANSWERS WILL PLUNGE SAM AND AMELIA INTO A DANGEROUS WORLD OF POLITICAL INTRIGUE IN THE EXCITING SEQUEL TO "LAST OF THE SEALS."
Posted March 27, 2013
Wise Bear Books Reviews "Deadly Plunge" by Greg Messel -- 5 Paws!
Deadly Plunge picks up where Last of the Seals leaves off as Sam Slater and Amelia Ryan's relationship moves to the next level with a semi-secret engagement. Sam pops the question during a romantic New Years Eve date. Although ecstatic at Sam's impromptu proposal sans ring, Amelia is conflicted, having just received a promotion of sorts to international flights for TWA.
Together they decide to keep their engagement quiet—telling only family and a few close friends. If it were common knowledge among Amelia's employers and co-workers, she would be forced to leave the job she loves, but is now torn because of her love for Sam.
Deadly Plunge can be divided into two main storylines. First, there is the growing dynamic between the book's two lead characters, Sam and Amelia. Their relationship is integral to the plot because, in addition to their romantic liaison, they have become a de facto crime-solving team. They are more powerful as a unit than they are separately.
The author addresses some interesting points in the context of their relationship as well. There's an issue of work inequality—the fact that women in the work force particularly stewardesses, had to adhere to extreme standards based on aesthetic appearance including height, weight, etc. at the risk of being fired. These ostensibly small plot details are a good reminder of how inequitable many societal norms were during this period in history. Many discriminatory practices were taken in stride because that's just the way it was—no matter how beautiful the woman. In short, it's not easy being a woman in more male dominated societies. The author paints a good picture without going on a rant and overshadowing the main plot.
As Sam and Amelia's relationship progresses, their encounters become more realistic. There's still plenty of somewhat chaste sexual tension—these two really need to get married—but now we see hints of bickering and jealously, which helps to propel the story beyond the all-too-perfect romance.
The author also takes on the taboo of divorce, revealing more details about Sam's former marriage, which gives us greater insight into Sam's character. In some ways, Sam has an evolved sense of feminism way before its time. He sees Amelia as an equal partner in every way. The fact that he is willing to consent to a long-term engagement, settling instead for cold showers, isn't completely believable; but then again, this is only book two in the Sam Slater series, so we'll reserve judgment.
While romance is its own type of mystery, the second storyline is the real mystery of Deadly Plunge which involves the sudden apparent suicide of a wealthy, San Francisco aristocrat who has allegedly jumped to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge. This is a wonderful example of how the author uses the city of San Francisco and its many well-known landmarks as a brilliant backdrop for this series.
Sam is hired by the deceased's much younger, femme fatale wife to investigate. What he and Amelia discover put them once again in grave danger. A clandestine underground political extremist group is not pleased with their involvement, and soon the private investigator team finds themselves in the thick of this exciting cold war drama where the hunters become the hunted.
Some recurring characters make repeat appearances in a meaningful ways. Vince, Sam's war buddy and San Francisco detective, is helpful as Sam's sounding board. At times, Vince does seem more than willing to let Sam do the heavy lifting rather than confront him with any jurisdictional or territorial issues, but then again, all great sleuths need a connection with the cops or feds.
Ted and Maryann Steele are super wealthy socialites who recommend Sam for this latest case. In the first Sam Slater novel, Last of the Seals, Sam was able to solve the mystery surrounding the death of their estranged daughter, Bette. While the Steeles feel tremendous gratitude for Sam's past work, Sam instinctively knows he doesn't want to be on the wrong side of Ted Steele either. The Steeles are a charmingly creepy couple that make for great reading.
Deadly Plunge is another strong offering from Messel. In some ways it's a more balanced story with better character development than Last of the Seals, but that's how it should be in creating a book series. The author's writing style and tone are still right on and overall it's another fun ride back in time to the mysterious streets of San Francisco.
This book was reviewed as part of the Wise Bear Digital Book Awards competition. Entry fees associated with the contest are administrative in nature and do not influence our honest, unbiased book reviews.
Posted January 11, 2013
Wealthy and well-connected businessman Arthur Bolender has taken a DEADLY PLUNGE off the Golden Gate Bridge, and his socialite wife Maggie isn’t buying the suicide. Seems Arthur had plenty to live for, including Maggie herself, his former-secretary-turned-bride. She hires private investigator Sam Slater to get to the bottom of Arthur’s mysterious death, and she’s willing to do what it takes to get to the truth, though her style of “help” isn’t exactly to Sam’s taste—or to that of his secret fiancée, Amelia Ryan.
The investigation into Bolender’s untimely death quickly leads to the victim’s mysterious Victorian house—a second home of which Maggie knew nothing. A love nest? Probably not with Maggie’s photo by the bedside. The answer might be found on the locked upper floor, but their initial foray into the space only leads to more questions, and answers lie in pieces through broken corridors . . . and murder.
Set in late 1950s San Francisco, DEADLY PLUNGE exudes atmosphere. The story impresses with a cinematic feel, sweeping readers back in time to in many ways watch (rather than merely read) the play of events. This is aided, no doubt, by the black and white photos Messel includes throughout. Showcasing the very venues mentioned in the story, these images really bring the reader to terms with the book’s historical ties.
Though the landscape is thoroughly San Francisco’s, Russia and the Cold War play important roles in the plot, which is intriguing but not overly technical for those not already familiar with the history. The characters are infinitely likeable—perhaps with the exception of Maggie Bolender, whose slightly grating flirtation is one of many essential and nicely woven plot threads.
Likewise, Amelia ‘s stunning beauty isn’t just Sam’s weakness—it actually plays into the plot. As Sam comes dangerously close to the core of the international political intrigue around which the story builds, one man’s obsession with the lovely Amelia leads him to take matters in his own hands. With her life on the line, can Sam save her from the grip of a madman, or will the story take another deadly turn?
Packed with intrigue, DEADLY PLUNGE simultaneously manages a bit of an easy pace. The reader truly feels the pull of a less-complicated time, at least in theory. Because underneath the promise of a simpler—albeit much more stilted—world of 1958, Greg Messel brings to readers a new dose of reality: twisting, deadly, and shockingly found in one’s own back yard.
Please note: A complimentary review copy of DEADLY PLUNGE was provided by Pump Up Your Book tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Posted January 11, 2013
Greg Messel in his new book, “Deadly Plunge” Book Two in the Sam Slater Mysteries series published by the author takes us back into the lives of Sam Slater and Amelia Ryan as they try to solve a murder that looks like a suicide.
From the back cover: Former baseball player and newly-minted private investigator, Sam Slater is hired to find out why a rich, politically-well connected San Francisco man, Arthur Bolender, suddenly ended his life by plunging off of the Golden Gate Bridge. All those who know Arthur say unequivocally that he did not commit suicide. However, Bolender’s body was found floating in San Francisco Bay and his car was abandoned in the traffic lane of the bridge. Meanwhile, Sam’s romance with glamorous TWA stewardess Amelia Ryan continues to blossom and deepen. She is now his secret fiancée. Amelia also eagerly helps Sam solve his cases when she’s in town.
The key to unraveling the mystery seems to be a strange old Victorian-style house. Bolender’s widow, a rich, seductive socialite named Maggie Bolender, was not even aware that her husband owned the house. What is really going on behind the doors of the mysterious house? Finding the answers will plunge Sam and Amelia into a dangerous world of political intrigue in the exciting sequel to “Last of the Seals
Sam Slater is back and his second case is a lot tougher than his first and his first almost got him killed. One thing is for sure Arthur Bolender died in the fall from the Golden Gate Bridge. Everyone says it was suicide his widow says it was murder and there are lots of people who do not want Sam to investigate this death and find out which is correct. “Deadly Plunge” is a wild ride filled with detail of the Cold War climate back then. Mr. Messel has given us a very exciting thriller set against the backdrop of 1958 San Francisco. This is an evenly paced page turning mystery adventure as we try to figure out who did it before Sam does. Not a chance. On top of everything the romance continues between Sam and Amelia with a nice cliffhanger at the end of the book. Thank you Greg Messel for giving us a mystery done old school. I am glad I found this talented author and am really looking forward to the next book in this series.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Pump Up Your Book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Posted December 12, 2012
In Deadly Plunge, former baseball player turned private investigator Sam Slater is back with a new case to investigate. Sam and his TWA stewardess / girlfriend Amelia Ryan are hired by the widow of Arthur Bolender, a wealthy and politically connected San Francisco man, to find out why he plunged to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge.
Set in 1958 San Francisco and told in the third person narrative, author Greg Messel once again weaves another tale of romance, mystery and suspense, with a twist of political and international intrigue added into the mix. As Sam and Amelia investigate the questionable death of Mr. Bolender, they come across a secret old Victorian-style house that he owned, where clandestine activities occurred and leads them into a dangerous world of political and international intrigue. Their discovery causes serious complications that could have deadly results. And if that isn't enough to whet your appetite, Sam and Amelia's relationship has blossomed into a secret engagement. Can Sam and Amelia solve the mystery of Arthur Bolender's deadly plunge? Will Sam and Amelia survive the international danger from this investigation?
Rich in detail and vivid descriptions of authentic 1958 Cold War political and international time period and San Francsico setting; with a cast of characters who are interesting and draw the reader into their lives; and a riveting storyline that has intrigue, suspense, twist and turns, and a steamy romance; Deadly Plunge will captivate your imagination and keep you guessing what will happen next. I really enjoy the author's style of writing, he engages the reader with his detailed descriptive writing, and weaves a gripping story that has a nice balance of mystery and romance that keeps the reader turning the pages.
Deadly Plunge is the second book in the Sam Slater Mystery Series, but can be read as a stand alone story. The author does reference characters and storyline plots from Last of the Seals, the first book in the series in the second book, but he interweaves them so smoothly that the reader won't get lost or feel like they have missed anything. However, I would recommend that you follow the sequence of the books in the series, because once you have been drawn into Sam Slater's latest investigative adventures, you will be hooked and want to follow him onto his next adventure!