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Nick of Time (Bug Man Series #6)

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The Bug Man is getting married on Saturday . . . if his fiancée can find him.

Forensic entomologist Nick Polchak lives in a world of maggots and blow flies and decomposing bodies. No wonder he's still single.

But Nick has finally found a woman as strange as he is—dog trainer Alena Savard, a woman who is odd, reclusive, and can seemingly talk to animals. It was a match made in...

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The Bug Man is getting married on Saturday . . . if his fiancée can find him.

Forensic entomologist Nick Polchak lives in a world of maggots and blow flies and decomposing bodies. No wonder he's still single.

But Nick has finally found a woman as strange as he is—dog trainer Alena Savard, a woman who is odd, reclusive, and can seemingly talk to animals. It was a match made in heaven.

Nick and Alena are scheduled to be married on Saturday—but there's one small problem. Nick has disappeared.

Caught up in a murder case involving an old friend, Nick finds himself on a manhunt that's drawing him farther and farther from the church where Alena is waiting. But will he make it back in time? Could Nick's single-minded focus cause him to forget his own wedding? Is he really pursuing a killer, or is he running away from something else?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595543103
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/17/2011
  • Series: Bug Man Series , #6
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 489,470
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Downs is the author of nine novels including the Christy Award-winning PlagueMaker and the highly acclaimed series of Bug Man novels. Tim lives in North Carolina with his wife Joy. They have three grown children.
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Read an Excerpt



Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2011 Tim Downs
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59554-977-8

Chapter One


I'm not sure I can do this," Nick said.

"I believe in you," Alena reassured him. "I know you've got it in you."

"It's just not right. There are things no man should be asked to do."

"Now listen," Alena said. "I've seen you pick maggots off a two-week-old corpse without even turning up your nose."

"Good idea," Nick said. "Think about happy times."

"What I'm saying is: If you can do that, you can manage this."

Nick looked at the sign again: Weddings 'n' Such: Everything You Need to Make Your Special Day Unforgettable. He turned to Alena: "Is it hot in here or is it just me?"

"Nick—we haven't even gone in yet."

The door opened to the sound of electronic chimes playing Mendelssohn's "Wedding March." Nick took a quick look around the room; he saw leather scrapbooks of sample wedding announcements, satiny ring pillows with lace embroidery, gleaming bridesmaids' and groomsmen's gifts, and flowery silk nosegays. Nick had never felt so out of his element; he felt like an ant that had wandered into the wrong colony, secreting some noxious alarm pheromone as he went, so that at any moment hundreds of angry workers might swarm all over him and shear off his limbs with their mandibles.

Alena took his hand. "Nick. Breathe."

They sat in a pair of matching upholstered chairs that faced a large desk. On the desk was a silver dome-shaped bell; Alena leaned forward and gave it a tap. A moment later a woman emerged from a back room and stepped into the doorway with a blinding smile.

"Well, hello! Welcome to Weddings 'n' Such! I'll be right with you two—just let me grab my calendar!"

Nick cringed. The wedding planner looked middle-aged, probably in her midforties, with unnaturally blond hair and big bright eyes and a smile that seemed too big for her face. Nick thought the woman looked like she was waiting for the punch line of a joke—as if she might break out in laughter at any moment.

Alena leaned over to him. "What's the matter with you?"

"She's perky."


"I can't do 'perky'—it's not in my genetic makeup."

"She's not perky, she's just friendly."

"Her face looks like one of those plasma balls at RadioShack."

"Maybe she just likes her job."

"I like my job, but I don't glow in the dark."

"Nick, we just got here—would you give the woman a chance?"

The wedding planner returned a moment later, sat down at her desk, and opened the calendar in front of her with a flourish. Then she folded her hands, leaned forward on her elbows, and gave each of them a long lingering smile.

"I can't do 'perky,'" Nick said.

"I beg your pardon?"

Alena interrupted. "My name is Alena Savard, and this is my fiancé, Nick Polchak. We're getting married."

The woman gave them a look of astonished delight.

"Wow," Nick said. "Are we your first customers?"

"Every customer is my first customer," she said.

"So much for references."

Alena ignored him. "We don't know much about planning a wedding, so we thought we could use some help, and that's why we're here."

"Well, you've come to the right place."

"What a relief," Nick said. "We tried Ace Hardware, but they didn't have a clue. By the way, why does your sign say 'Everything You Need to Make Your Special Day Unforgettable'? Why did you pick that word? I mean, when the Titanic hit the iceberg—that was 'unforgettable' too. Don't you think you're underpromising a little?"

Alena slapped a hand on Nick's forearm and smiled at the proprietor. "I should probably explain what's going on here. My fiancé feels a little out of place right now, and whenever that happens he turns into a complete idiot. Try not to take it personally—he does it to everybody. If it makes you feel any better, he gets a lot worse than this."

The woman turned to Nick with a look of pure compassion. "I understand perfectly. Are you feeling a bit out of place, Nick?"

"I'd rather be staked down in a pit of flesh-eating beetles."

"Now, Nick, I think you're exaggerating."

"No, that happened to me once. I actually preferred it."

"It's perfectly all right if you feel a little uncomfortable here—it's only natural. Why, I've seen grown men have full-blown panic attacks in here."

"Has anyone vomited yet? Because I want this day to be 'unforgettable.'"

At that, the woman turned to Alena. "Perhaps it would help if we all got to know each other a little better. Tell me about yourselves ... How did the two of you meet?"

"I suppose like anybody else," Alena said with a shrug. "Nick was hired by the FBI to locate bodies in a lost graveyard. He needed a cadaver dog and I own one."

"The soil in northern Virginia is very rocky," Nick explained. "Ground-penetrating radar has a hard time distinguishing rock from human bone. Cadaver dogs are very effective at detecting human remains, and Alena happened to have a very good one—that one there, in fact."

The wedding planner slowly leaned across the desk and saw a mottled gray dog reclining beside Alena's chair. The dog had one paw propped under its chin; the other leg was missing entirely, severed cleanly at the shoulder. The dog made no movement in response to the planner's attention; it just stared back at her with hollow blue eyes.

The planner's own eyes widened ...

"Relax," Nick said. "It's not a cadaver, it's a cadaver dog."

"I live by myself in a private compound in the mountains up above Endor," Alena continued. "I don't have a telephone, and my gate is always locked, so Nick climbed my fence one night and I ordered one of my guard dogs to grab him by the throat and pin him to the ground. That's how we met." She took Nick's hand and smiled.

The wedding planner looked at Nick. "What sort of work do you do?"

"I'm a forensic entomologist," Nick said. "I study the insects that are attracted to human remains, specifically in cases of suspected murder. These insects arrive at the body in a predictable order, and they develop at a measurable rate. That makes it possible for people like me to calculate the postmortem interval—the amount of time that's elapsed since the murder took place."

The planner lowered her voice to a whisper. "Why would anyone want to do that?"

Nick glanced around the office. "Who knows why people do what they do?"

"And I train dogs," Alena said simply.

The planner looked relieved. "How wonderful! You teach obedience school?"

"No, I train cadaver dogs to find human remains. I also train drug-sniffing dogs for the DEA and bomb-sniffers for ATF and Homeland Security; also search-and-rescue dogs, trackers, security dogs ..."

Nick watched the planner's face as it slowly fell. He almost felt sorry for her; if she was hoping to draw a wedding theme from their occupations, she was out of luck. Nobody wants to see a cake with a chalk line around it.

"Have the two of you set a date yet?" the planner asked.

"The last Saturday in May," Alena replied.

"Good timing," the planner said, noting the date in her calendar. "You'll beat the June rush."

"Nick's done teaching his classes by then."

The planner turned to Nick. "So you're a teacher?"

"I'm a professor of entomology at NC State," Nick said, "but what I really love to do is—"

"Yes, I know," she interrupted. "The ... bug thing."

Alena grinned at her fiancé. "They call Nick the Bug Man."

"I'm sure they do," the planner managed. "So where are you two planning to be married? Have you chosen the venue yet?"

"Resurrection Lutheran Church in Endor," Alena said.

"That's just a few miles from here," the planner said. "Terrific—that'll make my job a breeze. Now, what about the budget? How much are you thinking of spending on this wedding?"

"Your sign says 'Weddings 'n' Such,'" Nick said. "We want a wedding, but we'd like to skip the such."

"You want a simple wedding."

"Now you're talking," Nick said.

"But not too simple," Alena corrected.

The planner turned to Alena. "Will you want flowers? Printed invitations? A photographer?"

"Well, sure."

"Hold it," Nick said. "That sounds like such."

The planner turned to Nick. "And what would 'simple' look like to you, Nick?"

"I say, 'I do,' then she says, 'I do' ... then we're done." "Nick, it's a wedding," the planner scolded. "There are traditions to be observed; there are customs to follow."

"I refer to them as 'bizarre pairing rituals.'"

Alena turned to face her fiancé. "Nick—are you trying to be obnoxious?"

"No, it just flows—only amateurs have to try."

She gave him a look, and he got the message.

"Okay, we'll have some such," he said. "But how are we supposed to set a budget when we don't even know how much things cost?"

"Well, do you see that wedding cake in the corner?"

"Is that real?"

"No, it's just a plaster model. A cake like that costs about six hundred dollars."

"Well, no wonder. Plaster is hard to work with."

Alena cleared her throat.

"I'm just kidding," Nick said. "That cake is way too big for us, that's all."

"Well, what size wedding are we talking about? What about the bridal party and guest list? Have you discussed that yet?"

"Eight," Alena said.

"Eight—that's a nice size for a bridal party," the planner said. "Eight bridesmaids and eight—"

"No, that's the guest list."

The planner looked at her. "Eight guests?"

"Only two for me," Alena said, "but one of them is the minister, and his wife is playing the organ, so I guess we shouldn't count them. Make it six."

"But you must have extended family ... Grandparents? Cousins? Stepfamily?"

"Not me," Alena said.

"There's my mother in Pittsburgh," Nick said, "but she doesn't travel these days."

"What about colleagues and friends?"

"My friends are my colleagues," Nick said. "I suppose I'd have more, but my colleagues have a way of dying—it's an occupational hazard in my line of work."

"My friends are my dogs," Alena said. "I never had much luck with people. Can my dogs be in the wedding? Not all of them, of course—I have thirty-seven. Just a couple, maybe."

The planner just looked back and forth between them.

"Look," Nick said. "I think I can save us all some time here. Alena and I are planning to get married in May, and the fact is neither one of us knows the first thing about weddings—that's why we're here. We've picked a date, and we've got a church, and that's about it. So, what kind of cake do we want? We haven't got a clue—we never gave it a moment's thought before we—"

"I want this one," Alena said. She reached across the desk and handed the planner a small photograph of a wedding cake torn from the pages of a magazine.

The planner nodded. "We can do that. It'll cost about a hundred and fifty dollars."

"And I want to go here," Alena said, handing over a second photo, "for our honeymoon."

The planner smiled at the photo. "Very nice. Very traditional. I hear it's lovely there in the spring."

"May I see those?" Nick asked, leaning across the desk and extending his hand. He took the photos and studied the faded images. One was a photo of a simple white two-tiered wedding cake with traditional bride-and-groom figurines perched on top; the other was a photo of a handsome young couple reclining in a heart-shaped bathtub, their perfect bodies tastefully concealed beneath mountains of carefully positioned bubbles. The banner atop the ad read: Picture Yourself in the Poconos.

The couple in the bathtub looked strangely out of date to Nick; the man's mustache and hairstyle were straight out of the eighties. He turned the photo over and checked the date of the magazine; sure enough, the photo was more than twenty years old.

Nick looked at his fiancée as if he were seeing her for the first time ... What happened to the clueless neophyte who walked in here with him? What happened to the woman who had never given a moment's thought to wedding cakes or rehearsal dinners or honeymoon locations? What happened to the woman who was just like him?

Nick now realized that Alena had been thinking about this event for a very long time—ever since she was a little girl—and she had very definite ideas about how things should be done, right down to the shape of their honeymoon tub.

"You already have a cake picked out," he said to her.


"What if I wanted a different one?"

"Do you?"

He shrugged. "I don't even like cake."

"Then what are you whining about?"

"My steering wheel doesn't work."


"When I was five years old, my mom took me to Kennywood—it's an amusement park near Pittsburgh. I wanted to get on the bumper cars, but when they started the ride I kept crashing into everything."

"Nick, what are you talking about?"

"I grabbed the little steering wheel and started turning, but nothing happened. Then it dawned on me: The steering wheel didn't work—it was just something to hold on to while I smashed into things."

Both women just stared at him.

"Why don't you girls go ahead," he said. "I'll be over here if you need me."

Chapter Two


But the wedding is in less than a week," Alena said.

"I know," Nick said, "and I'll only be gone for one day."

Alena slumped low in the passenger seat of Nick's '94 Plymouth Sundance with her bare feet pressed against the dashboard and her knees almost against her chest. Just above the glove compartment there was a crack in the plastic; when she pushed against it she could feel it pinch the heel of her leathery foot.

"But why do you have to go now?"

"I told you—they only meet once a month, on the last Tuesday. That's today, so I have to go."

Nick's car sat idling in the wide gravel driveway in front of Alena's double-wide trailer in the secluded mountains above Endor. The car's heater, set to low, was just enough to take the chill off the morning air. Outside, a light mist was beginning to lift from the ground, revealing the bluets and trillium and columbine in their brilliant spring colors. Across the gravel driveway, Alena's dogs pressed their noses against the kennel fence, watching the conversation shift back and forth between their master and her husband-to-be as if they were the gallery at a tennis match.

"You could at least turn off the engine," Alena said.

"I don't have time. The meeting's at noon and it's a three-hour drive to Philadelphia."

"So you're just going to drive off and leave me with all these wedding details?"

"What details?"

"There's always details before a wedding—everybody knows that."

"Like what?"

She turned and glared at him. "Details. Do I have to itemize them for you?"

"You've got your dress. The cake's being delivered. Gunner's setting up the church and Rose is bringing the flowers. All we've got to do is show up."

"Well, that just shows what you know." Alena sank even lower in her seat. She wished she could think of some major complication Nick's one-day absence would cause, some last-minute detail that would make it impossible for him to leave—but she couldn't. She hated to admit it, but Nick was right; it was a small and simple wedding, and there was very little left to do. She just despised the idea that Nick would want to leave. She wanted him to be there, with her—not because he had to, but because he wanted to.

But all she could think to say was, "But you just got here."


"Who drives off and leaves his fiancée the week of the wedding? Who does that?"

"Alena, we've been over all this. Do we really have to go over it again?"

"Yes. We do."

Nick groaned.

"Stop moaning," she said. "You sound like one of my dogs."

"I feel like one of your dogs."

"Just tell me again—what's so important that you have to drive to Philadelphia less than a week before our wedding?"

"I'm a member of an organization called the Vidocq Society," Nick said slowly. "I have been for several years. The organization was named after a famous nineteenth-century Frenchman named François-Eugène Vidocq, a pioneering detective who—"

"Skip the history lesson," Alena said. "Just get to 'why.'"


Excerpted from NICK OF TIME by TIM DOWNS Copyright © 2011 by Tim Downs. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 42 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 42 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Never heard of a forensic entomologist before this book.

    Wow if it is one pair that have no business getting married its Nick and Alena. I enjoyed the mystery; I really liked learning about all of the bugs, but I did not like Nick or Alena. Heavens knows I have no issue with people who have oddities (particularly as I have a few oddities myself), but this was a little bit ridiculous. Just the thought of these two having children was causing me to have a panic attack. I'm glad Alena called it off. Anyway, it was the relationship between the characters that caused me to feel conflicted about this book. I liked the book a lot more once I realized that Alena called it off. I really liked the fact that she recognized what she needed in a relationship.

    This book is the fourth in the series. I did not feel lost because I hadn't read the prior books. I'm not sure that I could read another book in this series. I think it would set my teeth on edge. Well perhaps I'll revisit the series in 5 years. I think.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 8, 2011

    Tim Downs' Nick of Tim

    I wish I would of known ahead of time that Nick of Time was in the middle of a series, I will most definitely be going back and reading the other books....I can't wait....What others have said about this book are absolutely will LOL, you will scratch your head, and you will have your investigating antennas up....Tim Downs is creative and a true artist when it comes to plot twists. Thank you!

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. 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."

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  • Posted July 27, 2011

    Nick of Time by Tim Downs

    Never before have I ever been so ashamed to read a book. Yes, Nick of Time was a great book with unforgettable characters, but it's also smack in the middle of a series. I read it because I signed up to read it on a website, but now I wish I'd read the entire rest of the series first.

    Nick Polchak is a forensic entomologist, which means he knows bugs better than pretty much anyone else on the planet. He has quite the messed up personality, too, so that's why everyone was shocked when he announced he was getting married.

    Alena Savard is a dog trainer, but unlike any you've seen before. She's lived alone for most of her life, and there's no better partner for Nick. Yep, that's right, the Bug Man and the Dog Woman are getting married. There's only one problem: it's the week of the wedding, but Nick is nowhere to be found.

    Nick went to a monthly convention-this much Alena knew-but it turns out a friend of his was recently murdered, so he set out to find his own answers-even though it was his wedding week and he had no way to contact his fiancée-and he eventually starts uncovering what could be a much more sinister plot.

    Nick of Time is a great book. At times it had me shivering, at others it had me laughing. One of the plot twists you can't see coming, and when it's finally revealed, chances are you'll burst out laughing (if you're not the type to laugh out loud, then you'll at least chuckle in your head).

    The characters were well-created, each with their own personality (it sounds like something that should always happen-and you're right-but some authors are just bad at doing it). The story was cool, and you could feel many of the emotions of the characters. Tim Downs is a great novelist, but I just wish I'd read the books in order.

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  • Posted June 20, 2011

    Highly recommend

    A great crime thriller, Nick of Time, is a story about a man that uses his knowledge of bugs to help solve murders. Nick is arrogant and rude you love him anyway. He takes off a few days before his wedding leaving his fiance, Alena, somewhat unhappy about it. Will the bug man make it back in time?

    The two of them end up getting involved in all kinds of intrigue, plenty of action and surprising twists. An interesting and fast moving plot with humurous and snippy dialogue, this book is hard to put down. You can't guess what is going to happen next, that is a feature I love in a book.

    Wonderful characters, great storyline.

    Tim Downs is a fantastic writer, he now has a new follower! I give Nick of Time 5 stars.

    I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Posted June 13, 2011

    A Must Read!

    Nick of Time
    By Tim Downs

    I have a wide amount of book preferences, from romance, to humor, to how tos, and books about bettering yourself, but at the end of the day, sometimes, you just want to get lost in an amazing book, and that's just what happened when I decided to read this book!! I have a love and soft spot for books with great descriptions, thrilling plots, and awesome twists and turns. This book delivered on all levels! Nick Polchak is a bug man, a forensic entomologist a career built around maggots, blow flies and decomposing bodies! He's a single guy, but it's no surprise given his career choices! However, Nick meets, and falls in love with a reclusive dog trainer named, Alena. They decide to get married, but, Nick has disappeared!! He's gone off, chasing the murder of an old friend. The closer he gets to catching the murderer, the farther he gets from his love, and almost wife Alena! Although this book sounds firm and gruesome, but exceptionally written, and well thought out. The characters were believable, the plot was cleaver, and it was an all-around pleasing mystery to read! There is wonderfully witty dialog, and a plot twist at the end that you won't see coming!!

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest opinion.

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  • Posted June 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Bugman's Adventure

    Nick has finally made the decision to marry, but when a friend invites him to a meeting in Philadelphia of the Vidocq Society he heads off. An adventure awaits him when he arrives. Loved this clue leads to another and with the wedding on Saturday!
    Alena...Nick's intended feels threatened when Nick takes off so close to their wedding date. Loved the way she trains her dogs...she uses her dogs to find cadavers. They also protect her when she commands them!
    Right from the beginning you wonder if Nick will make it back in time? This story keeps you wanting to turn the page to find out what is going to happen next. You will never guess the ending!
    When Nick is stopped, several times in the book, he is a wise guy! No wonder he misses the important phone calls!
    If you want a page turner, and a really good read, that you cannot figure out what is going to happen next...this is the book for you!
    I was given a copy of this book by Book Sneeze, I was not required to give a positive review.

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  • Posted May 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Perfectly imperfect, like real life!

    Nick, a forensic entomologist, is known as the Bug Man. He isn't very good with the human species, but to everyone surprise he is finally getting married. However, a friend is murdered and Nick's single-minded focus keeps pushing him to solve it. But what about his wedding in a few days? He is going to forget it or is he subconsciously running from it? This is the 6th book of the Bug Man series, but for some reason after the 3rd they aren't marked as clearly. However they do follow each other, so I would suggest that you stay in order. I had read the first 3 novels and became a fan of the Bug Man. When I got Nick of Time, I found out that I had missed 2 other Bug Man books. I quickly got and read those, so I could be caught up. I enjoyed being in Bug Man mode for a couple weeks! I really enjoyed Nick of Time. I continue to love Nick's quirkiness and wittiness. We were introduced to Alena, Nick's fiancée, a couple of books ago. She is an excellent addition with her own uniqueness. Tim Downs added a twist that I totally didn't see coming, and I usually am able to figure out books and movies pretty quickly! Also, the ending wasn't "perfect" which I felt was a breath of fresh air! It was closer to reality than books that try to wrap everything up neat and tidy. All I have to say is "Go get her, Nick!" Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  • Posted May 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer


    Nick Downs has written a series of suspense novels based on the character Nick Polchak. Nick is, shall we say, an unusual character. He loves the world of insects--he'd rather spend time with bugs than with humans!

    The mystery was engaging and the characters were quirky and entertaining.
    This is not the first book in the series, but the first I had read. I had absolutely no trouble jumping into the series midway, as the author was adept at filling in the blanks along the way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2011

    Nick of Time by Tim Downs

    The book Nick of Time by Tim Downs is the newest book in the bug man novel series. It was a very fun read with a major surprise near the end. Just one word of warning, dont read this book without reading the one that can before it. You would be completely lost and would not understand the plot at all. Nick Polchak is the main character who's job is to study decomposing bodies. Even with this repulsive job he has just managed to find his true love. There is just one problem. His friend dies and Nick runs off to investigate; only a couple days before his wedding. The rest of the book is his searching for his friend's killer and his fiance looking for him. While this book did not have the gross factor of the previous books it was a little intense. There was a good scene were the hero is captured and very quickly realizes how much he loves his soon to be wife. The book was very entertaining and a great was to pass the time. I read it during a tornado. I would recommend this book to others but tell them the must read the earlier ones first. I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  • Posted May 21, 2011

    Excellent Suspense - Couldn't Guess the Twist

    I was hesitant to select this book, since it is Tim Downs' sixth book in a series; however, I was pleasantly surprised. Mr. Downs does an excellent job of continuing the series while engaging a new reader. I had no trouble immersing myself into the storyline.

    I love the quirky main character, Nick Polchak! He's a forensic entomologist, a guy who studies bugs. I equate him to one of those people who thinks on such a higher level, he has trouble interacting with 'average' people. What makes Nick endearing is he says whatever he's thinking. He clearly has no edit button on his mouth; and his exasperated (and borderline sarcastic) commentary is hilarious. I laughed allowed throughout the entire read.

    While I didn't connect as well with the other characters, they were easy to keep up with and follow. Nick's fiancée, Selena, is quirky in her own right; and I'd like to get to know her better. Nick's FBI and Vidocq Society friends, while incredibly intellectual, are quite down to earth. In every scene, I felt each character was approachable and real. The banter between characters reminded me of dialogue from movies like Ocean's Eleven. If you like fast-paced novels, you'll like Nick of Time.

    What I loved most about Nick of Time is the unexpected twist it took. I thought I had the plot figured out, and then WHAM! What I thought would happen, didn't. Bravo to Mr. Downs for throwing this reader off the suspected finish. For that very reason, I cannot wait to read the other Bug Man novels. I believe I have a new favorite.

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  • Posted May 20, 2011

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    I am not really familiar with the Bug Man series prior to reading this book, but that didn't mean I felt left out on the whole deal about Nick Polchak. This book can be a stand alone mystery novel that's as good a way as any to get one started on the Bug Man series. Tim Downs writes with the entertaining wit of a writer who definitely knows what he's doing and just what type of emotions and reactions he wants to affect his reader with. This book has both mystery and humor that's sure to keep any reader up all night laughing.

    Tim Downs has indeed created quite an interesting character in Nick Polchak. And this book has just whetted my appetite for more of his hilarious adventures. Alena is just as fun a character as her quirky fiance, as well as her three highly trained dogs. This book will keep you guessing as to how the resolution to the mystery will unfold and whether or not our hero and his one-track mind will ever make it to the altar. The writing is good and easy to understand. The flow of the story doesn't seem rushed and the character interactions and developments came naturally enough to be believable. A fun and exciting book that deserves 4 out of 5 stars!

    I got a free copy of this book to review from booksneeze.

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  • Posted May 17, 2011

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    Witty and Smart

    Dr. Nick Polchak, Prof. Of Entomology at North Carolina State is a genius, a man who understands bugs more than people. He is engaged to be married in less then a week to an equally eccentric woman, dog trainer Alena Savard. Premarital discord ensues when Nick finds it necessary to help a colleague on an cold case requirng his forensic expertise. Nick arrives in Pennsylvania only to find his friend murdered and makes it his mission to find out why? With Nick missing and a wedding date looming, what is a fiancée to do but to track him down with her pack of dogs. This case only deepens when nothing is what it seems, leaving you wondering if Nick and Alena will make it to the alter and whose the murderer?

    I've just read probably one of the most wittiest novels in a long time. I couldn't put the book down, Nick is the ultimate character you love to hate. He's funny, brilliant and at the same time rude and egotistical. The ending was an unexpected twist which worked wonderfully with the story. Kudos to Tim Downs, I highly recommend this book.

    **Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. 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

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  • Posted May 17, 2011

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    Surprisingly good!

    The premise is tricky and multi-layered: a murder mystery, wedding planning, and cold feet. This is probably why I didn't expect much--because, really, how can your regular run-of-the-mill author pull all those odd threads together?

    Apparently, Tim Downs is not your regular run-of-the-mill author. I've never heard of him before Nick of Time and I terribly underestimated him. Besides, the cover was unattractive, and I've never read a good mystery from a Christian publisher. So there.

    But Nick of Time paints a convincingly dark, CSI-ish world with an interesting, eccentric Grissom-like main character (minus the irreverence and obnoxiousness).

    Lots of dry humor, snappy banter. A solid, intriguing mystery that moves a step ahead of you, with an equally weighty subplot of relationship woes. Plus one of those really good twists that catches you off guard. None of the ready made formula endings, this one.

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  • Posted May 16, 2011

    Very Good Book!

    This book was an intense page turner. When I started reading this book I did not expect to learn so much about bugs! One of the reasons I enjoyed this book is because just when you think you know what is going on the author adds another little twist! The story starts out when this couple enters a wedding planners office called "Wedding 'n' Such: Everything you need to make your special day unforgettable." The couple (Nick and Alena) are planning on getting married in a few months! The groom's profession is forensic entomologist (pretty much it means he can look at the bugs on or around the corpse and be able to tell how long the body had been dead) and the bride's profession is training cadaver dogs! Only days before the wedding Nick gets a call from his forensic bug buddy saying he needs help on a case. Alena, however, doesn't hear from him for three days and on the eve of their wedding takes her dogs and goes looking for him. Nick of Time is definitely a must read!

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  • Posted May 15, 2011

    Great series

    Nick of Time was a very interesting read, full of twists turns and packed with marriage advice. It was odd to read marriage advice in a fiction book, but it really flowed well within the text. The characters were well built and had great depth. I know that this Nick of Time books are a series, so I am going to to have to grab some of the other books and check them out as well. The book was a great easy read and it definitely had an ending that no one would suspect. If you like forensics books, murder mysteries or the like, you will definitely enjoy this book. It was fun to read and I am excited to read the next book in the series. The book ends with a new beginning (not to spoil anything) and I am excited to see where the author takes our interesting characters.

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  • Posted May 14, 2011

    A great mystery thriller!

    The Bug Man is getting married on Saturday... if his fiancée can find him.

    Forensic entomologist Nick Polchak lives in a world of maggots and blow flies and decomposing bodies. No wonder he is still single.

    But Nick has finally found a woman as strange as he is - dog trainer Alena Savard, a woman who is odd, reclusive, and can seemingly talk to animals. It was a match made in heaven.

    Nick and Alena are scheduled to be married on Saturday - just a mere 4 days away- Nick finds himself driving to Philadelphia for the monthly meeting of the Vidocq society. Being among a group of forensic professionals consulting on cold cases will surely allow him to feel useful and normal.
    But while there he discovers that a close friend has been murdered . . . Nick begins to follow the trail of evidence rather than returning to his fiancée. Fearing that his one-track mind won't lead him home by Saturday, Alena and three of her dogs go to track him down.

    When she finally finds him, nothing is as Alena (or Nick) expected . . .

    (summary adapted from the publisher)

    Picture a forensic entomologist and an avid dog lover sitting in a wedding planner's office. Neither know truly what they desire, but Nick sure knows all of this is a waste of time. He heads to his monthly meeting in Philadelphia against the wishes of his intended, 4 days before their wedding. Fast forward -----> He finds his trusted friend and colleague murdered ------> Who else cares enough to solve this mystery? No one but him!

    I enjoyed the this book. The story line and characters were well developed. Tim Downs did a superb job in crafting this book to keep you questioning what is around the next corner.... or on the next page!

    Nick of Time is the sixth book in the Bug Man series. I did not have any trouble picking up on Nick's character, but I do look forward to reading the previous books. There is even one written around New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina!

    Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5

    Note: I received a free copy of Nick of Time from BookSneeze® for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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  • Posted May 13, 2011

    First Visit With the Bug Man

    Imagine how excited I was to find out about a series featuring a forensic entomologist! Nick of Time begins with Nick preparing to wed his fiancé, Alena. Then just a mere four days prior to the big day, Nick leaves town to meet his friend Pete in Philadelphia. Pete has requested Nick's help on a cold case that he is trying to solve. Unsurprisingly, Alena is unhappy with Nick's plan to leave town so close to their wedding day. Nick makes a plan to call Alena every evening at 9pm while he is away. Alena waits and waits, but no call from Nick ever comes. In a message relayed from Nick through their pastor, Alena finds out that Pete was murdered before Nick was able to meet with him about the cold case. In an attempt to try to find out what happened to Pete, Nick follows some leads and ends up in the Poconos. The Poconos was Alena's dream honeymoon location, and Nick is there without her. Instead, he is on a wild goose chase and if he does not get back soon, their wedding will be missing a groom. Alena follows Nick to the Poconos, following the same leads that he followed just two days prior. Alena needs to know whether Nick still wants to marry her, but the two keep missing each other. They finally catch up with each other on eve of the wedding, but will the wedding go on as planned? Alena's dogs and her kennel are a big part of this story. I generally like stories that are dog-related, and I could definitely relate to Alena's concerns about her dogs any time they were in danger. However, I found her training of the dogs a bit over the top and unrealistic. About halfway through the book, I realized that I found the characters of Nick and Alena to be somewhat abrasive and I nearly gave up reading. But I picked it back up and finished the story. I am glad that I finished the story because there was a big twist at the end. Sometimes I can suspend logic for a good mystery novel, but it just didn't work for me in this case. Overall this probably isn't a series that I will continue reading. Thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing me with an advance copy of Nick of Time via netGalley.

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  • Posted May 12, 2011

    Love This Series!

    If you're not familiar with the series, take Sherlock Holmes (I'm talking Robert Downey Jr. in Guy Richie's 2009 Sherlock Holmes) and transport him into the present, make him an expert on bugs, and throw in liberal doses of CSI. Now you've got the basic outline.

    In this book, the Bug Man-a.k.a Nick Polchak-is getting married. There are perhaps situations in the world that would be more difficult for most of us, but not for everyone's favorite anti-social, blunt, sarcastic, Polish-American forensic entomologist (especially the wedding part-he just does not understand "human's bizarre mating rituals"). In order not to give spoilers for the previous book, Ends of the Earth, I won't tell you whom he marries.

    Anyway, being Nick, he leaps off to go help a friend solve a cold case murder about five days before the wedding and well, everything goes downhill from there.

    Published by Thomas Nelson, Nick of Time isn't an overtly Christian book, but it is a clean one. No wading through sex, cursing, and gratuitous violence here. This isn't to say it's necessarily for the weak-stomached. Understand, the main character spends his days picking insect life off dead bodies and analyzing them to determine time, place, and in some cases, method, of death. He also keeps dead pigs in his backyard to study insect decomposition.

    Nick of Time isn't the strongest Bug Man novel (my favorites are probably First the Dead and Shoofly Pie), but despite its plot holes, it is quite funny. All Bug Man books are the type of books you laugh out while reading, and then attempt to hunt someone down to share the joke with. In short, if you're a fan of Bug Man, read Nick of Time; you'll enjoy another encounter with Nick. If you aren't a fan of Nick yet, I'd recommend you start with Shoofly Pie, and work your way up. And don't worry. By the time you get to Ends of the Earth, you will be a fan, and then you'll want to read Nick of Time.

    In accordance with Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, I am disclosing that I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My opinions are my own, and I am not required to write a positive review.

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  • Posted May 12, 2011

    Awesome book! Highly Recommended!

    First of all, I must say that this book was amazing! When I first read the back and read the word "Bug Man" I was a little leery as whether I really wanted to read it or not. But when I sat down and opened it up, I could not put it down.

    Forensic entomologist Nick Polchak is getting married to his beautiful fiancée Alena Savard, a dog enthusiast (and that's just putting it lightly). But only a week before the wedding, Nick heads up to Philadelphia for his monthly meeting with the Vidocq society, a group of forensic specialists, who are the best in their given field, that take on cold cases that were never solved. Nick hasn't been able to make it to the last few meetings and he is especially eager to go to this one because his good friend Pete has invited him over to catch up. But when Nick finds that his friend has been murdered it takes him even further away from is waiting bride to the Poconos in northeast Pennsylvania. Tired of waiting for Nick, Alena gets in her car, determined to take matters into her own hands and bring home her fiancé before her wedding. But is there another reason for Nick's disappearance? Is he having second thoughts about the wedding? Will Alena be able to find him? ??? Read the book! It's a good one!

    P.S. A forensic entomologist is someone who studies bugs and their relations to decomposing bodies. Just thought you should know.

    P.S.S. or is it P.P.S.? This is the 6th book in the Bug Man series, but even though I have never read or even heard of the others (Shoofly Pie, Chop Shop, First the Dead, Less than Dead, Ends of the Earth) I had no trouble following this book or feeling like I was missing something. But I have heard that it is probably best to read the others first if you want a background of the characters but it is not necessary.

    I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. Not officially available until May 17, 2011.

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  • Posted May 9, 2011

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    Who knew bugs could tell tales

    Nick of Time [Publisher: Thomas Neilson, Inc., Pages: 336, ISBN: 1595543104] is a Bug Man novel and a sequel to Ends of the Earth as per the author. The protagonist of the book is a forensic entomologist, Dr. Nick Polchak.

    Nick is engaged to be married. A few days before the wedding, he is invited by his close friend to attend a meeting to help solve an old case. He discovers his friend missing and the trail takes him to the old case. As he tries to uncovers the case, he also has a few brush-ins with the local cops, one of which is a retired FBI agent.

    His fiancee goes in search of him with her dogs. She has her own adventures even as she learns how to use her new iPhone.

    The rest of the story is about not just the solving of the old case but the revelation of other things as well.

    This is the first book by Tim Downs that I have read. He has an easy style of writing, which makes for fast reading. The book also introduced to me the science of forensic entomology, is the application and study of insects and other bugs to criminial matters. Who would have thought bugs in dead bodies reveal so much information about death.

    The suspense is maintained throughout and there are enough twists in the tale to keep the reader on this toes.

    A nice book for the weekend.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze Blogger Review program. 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."

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