"Fangs Out" (The Permanent Press), by David Freed
After 10 years on California's death row, Dorian Munz is finally about to be executed for murdering the daughter of a Vietnam war hero named Hub Walker. Does Munz have any last words?
"Funny you should ask," he says, and then swears the young woman was actually killed by her employer, a military contractor named Greg Castle, to keep her from exposing what she knew about him defrauding the U.S. government.
The California press has a field day with the accusation, but Hub doesn't believe a word of it because Castle is one of his best friends.
Hub offers Cordell Logan, a former military black ops assassin now scraping out a living as a civil flight instructor, $10,000 to discredit Munz's claim and restore his friend's reputation.
Logan, introduced last year in David Freed's debut novel, "Flat Spin," needs the money. He also welcomes the chance to fly his personal plane to San Diego, where several principals in the case live, because he is hoping to reconcile there with his beautiful ex-wife, Savannah. Logan figures wooing Savannah back will be the hard part. The investigation, he thinks, will be a slam-dunk. As it turns out, he's right about Savannah, but dead wrong about the case.
Before long, Logan stumbles over the body of a woman who had been a witness in the long-ago murder, is briefly suspected of killing her, is seduced by Hub's trophy wife, gets assaulted by people who want him to mind his own business, and is nearly killed when someone tampers with his private plane. Eventually, he manages to sort it all out and help bring some bad people to justice.
Freed, an experienced pilot, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a military affairs expert with an active security clearance, spins his suspenseful plot with the same muscular prose, hard-boiled attitude and flashes of wry humor that made the first Logan Cordell novel a critical success.
Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award, is the author of "Cliff Walk" and "Rogue Island."