I spent several years in Nashville when I was younger, and while I was there, I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of Steve Womack. He taught a screenwriting class at the local tech college, and it was one of the best writing classes I've ever had. He is a fantastic teacher, and an even better writer, and it makes me so happy to know that he's bringing his mystery series back, with intentions of writing more. So I want to share with you the first three books in the Harry James Denton series, because they are all amazing to read and available as ebooks for the first time.
Book one: Dead Folks' Blues. I'm always going to recommend the first book in any series. It gives the author a chance to introduce themselves and their characters, and to show us the flavor of the series. And the flavor of this series is dark. It's set in Nashville, in the darker corners than the tourists see. This is not the Nashville of the Country Music Hall of Fame, of big hair and large estates. It's the Nashville of tiny offices where songwriters try to put together enough notes to pay the rent, of real people struggling and hurting and dying. It's the Nashville where an ex-newspapermen try to make a go of the private eye business and have to resort to working as a repo man. That's Harry James Denton's town. He's broke, brokenhearted, and broken down, when his college sweetheart sweeps into his office to ask him to work as protection for her rich surgeon husband. And that's just the beginning . . .
Book two: Torch Town Boogie. In this book, Harry finds himself investigating the string of arsons going through the neighborhood, striking at those whose goal of gentrification is left in ashes. And then one of those fires turns to murder. The victim is a well-known therapist and Harry's ex-wife's lover, so Harry has to figure out who killed the man before Harry's life goes up in flames. Literally. This one was always a favorite of mine, so I recommend it highly.
Book three: Way Past Dead. This one digs a little deeper into the cutthroat music business, when the ex-wife of Harry's songwriter friend, a young and rising country music star, is beaten to death. Harry has to step in and save his friend and the day, all while trying to save his girlfriend, Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Marsha Helms, from an unrelated but strange and potentially violent situation. Now this one starts with one of my all-time favorite opening lines of a novel, ever, so I'm going to leave you with that. If you can read it and then just walk away, more power to you. Even if I hadn't known the author and loved his work, I'd have to buy any book that starts like this:
The night the fundamentalist redneck zealots assaulted the morgue, I was hauling butt down I-65 from Louisville back to Nashville after spending three days lying in the grass videotaping a disabled, wheelchair-bound bricklayer shooting hoops on his brother-in-law's patio.