Rick Hundey’s second murder-mystery novel in the Jack Beer series, Collingwood Fakeout, was recently reviewed by Joan Barfoot in the London Free Press, and you can read that review in its entirety here:
Fun to hang with area detective at annual Elvis fest satisfaction
By Joan Barfoot, Special to QMI Agency
April 24, 2010 12:00am
Elvis is one of those gifts that just keep on giving. From the music industry, to his heirs and offspring, to Graceland tourism, decades after his death he continues to fill a whole lot of pockets.
That wouldn’t be the case if his music and persona hadn’t ignited a load of passions while he was alive. Which among other things has meant a big cottage industry of “tribute artists” who still travel the continent in flashy outfits and sideburns, trying to perform as if they were him.
Among their obligatory destinations is Collingwood, the Georgian Bay town that has created an Elvis festival as an annual summer tourism event. Which is what brings us to Exeter’s Rick Hundey and his fledgling crime novel series featuring private investigator Jack Beer.
In Collingwood Fakeout, Beer travels there from his Grand Bend headquarters at the behest of his business and personal partner Sheila, whose brother Mike is competing in the Collingwood festival’s best-Elvis competition.
Jack could hardly be less interested in Elvis, Elvis music or for that matter Mike, whom he dislikes, but he likes Sheila very much, and so off they head through the countryside to a bemusing event that mostly makes him want a stiff drink.
Some people, though, take Elvis-world very seriously, including not only the impersonators – a term they find offensive – but some memorabilia collectors, civic boosters and business people as well.
Degrees of obnoxiousness vary among the participants, and nobody seems terribly surprised when a local who has claimed the name Collingwood Elvis is killed.
Sheila and her family, however, are distressed when police lean toward Mike as the likeliest suspect, and ask a reluctant Jack to prove the cops wrong.
With help from an aging and eccentric drunk who’s also an ex-cop, Jack starts learning about not only some of the interpersonal chemistries of Elvis fans and a few town nabobs, but some of their histories, too, notably an old unsolved hit-and-run that left a local man paralyzed and his wife enduringly bitter.
There’s also a few sexual liaisons going on under the town’s surface, mostly of the extramarital variety, along with some dodgy business dealings.
More lives are threatened, including Jack’s, as he sorts through who’s doing what to whom, getting help not only from his new ex-cop buddy and some other local allies, but from a London lawyer and an ex-biker named Tiny.
The latter two are familiar to readers of Hundey’s first Jack Beer novel, Death at the Bend. As with that initial series entry, Hundey has again self-published, and for readers outside regional bookstore range, has established his own on-line distribution system.
Whether or not those are shrewd moves in the currently confused evolution of the publishing industry, Hundey, a former community planner and consultant, looks to be having a good time. His alternately tough-and-tender Jack Beer isn’t exactly unique in the annals of fictional p.i.s, but he’s fun to hang out with for a couple of hundred pages, which is satisfaction enough.
Joan Barfoot is a novelist living in London