Run to Ground

Run To Ground - Douglas P. Lyle

I read the intriguing excerpt for Run to Ground and decided that a good southern mystery would fit right in to where my mind was at the time. Its fast paced action is set in contemporary times in Huntsville, Alabama where everyone knows each other very well either as family, friend, neighbor or through their church, charity work or employment. It would be really hard to keep a secret of harboring such hatred and malicious intent from other people in their lives.

Tim and Martha Foster lost their only child to a local pedophile, Walter Whitaker. Martha, having witnessed the abduction testified against Walter in court then watched in horror as the judge, on a legal technicality, throws out the kidnap murder charges and reduces the charges to obstructing justice and perjury with a sentence of only three years. While in prison Walter spends his time in jail taunting and threatening the Fosters, accusing them of lying, of making false accusations against him and vows revenge on them just as soon as he gets out.

On the day of Walter’s release, the town turns out in support of the Fosters and in protest that this murderer is to be released back into their community. Dub Walker, a forensics expert, author and consultant for the police, and his best friend, homicide detective T-Tommy Tortelli, are there to assist with crowd control, to ensure that the unpopular release takes place without incident. Dub’s ex-wife and TV reporter Claire McBride joins them to cover his release for the local news station. The prisoner leaves the prison gates with an “arrogant stride and a smirk on his face” when shots ring out. He is shot twice by a long range rifle, in full view of news cameras, horrified onlookers and law enforcement officers. JD Walker, the prisoner’s brother, arrives just after Dub’s attempts at CPR have failed and his brother is declared dead. JD immediately accuses the Fosters of killing his brother and sets the wheels in motion to find and kill them. The only people missing from the scene are the Fosters who apparently left town that morning, but not before leaving a confusing scene at their home.

I enjoyed the fast paced story, there was continual action and revelations as more and more evidence was unearthed, but it it did tend to read a lot like an episode of CSI, lots of forensics evidence while never really digging into the characters or fleshing them out. What I knew about them was only skin-deep and little about what made them tick. Dub is the only partial exception to this as we find his sister had been abducted and never found, leaving him wounded with feelings of guilt for not being able to save her. Knowing the feelings of rage this tragedy engenders, he’s in sympathy with the Fosters and personally wouldn’t condemn them for killing Walter…he knows he would in a minute. It was hard for me to empathize or care about what happened to the characters as I never really felt I knew them. I just couldn’t become emotionally involved. The story did; however, keep my interest as clue after clue was disclosed until the surprising conclusion.

Although this is the third in the Dub Walker series, it reads well as a standalone and I think most mystery fans will enjoy it.

Originally published on