Sunny Solomon Book Review

‘Tahoe Moon’ shines a light on another McKenna mystery

Sunny Solomon Book Review(August 23, 2022) — For all you mystery-thriller fans who love Lake Tahoe and Todd Borg’s Owen McKenna, hold onto your hats: McKenna is back in “Tahoe Moon.”

As in all Borg’s mysteries, the first dead body appears within three pages of the book’s prologue. In this case, a part-time woodsman is gruesomely flattened to death by the tree he was sawing down.

Borg’s prologues are brief: setting, action, dead body. OK, on to chapter one – where we meet retired SFPD Det. McKenna on his way into a fancy-schmancy Lake Tahoe hotel. (But don’t forget every detail of the prologue.)

A forlorn-looking little girl tugs at McKenna’s heartstrings while he’s walking to the hotel. She looks lost, with a skateboard tucked under her arm. McKenna passes her and enters the hotel to meet Mr. Rossi of Rossi & Dexter. Rossi is obnoxiously real, while an absent Dexter is strangely fictitious. Mr. Rossi interviews McKenna to head up a security team, a job as fictitious as Mr. Dexter .

Returning from the hotel, he looks for the young girl to see if she needs help. The 8-year-old is deaf, reads lips, signs and talks in a deaf-speaking voice. Camille is waiting for her grandfather, a sometimes wood cutter, to come back from a job.

McKenna calls his longtime friend Sgt. Santiago for help. He also calls his longer-time girlfriend Street, hoping her female presence will help as well. And, oh yes, Camille’s beloved Grandpa Charlie is Charlie Dexter.

Page turner

Never start a McKenna mystery in the afternoon; you’re likely to not fall asleep until early the next morning.

Borg’s clue-dropping talent whets our appetites to guess nonstop. Is there a connection between Grandpa Charlie, the fictitious Mr. Dexter and the dead woodsman? Is the woodsman’s death murder, suicide or accident? What links the woodsman’s accident and other accidental deaths occurring for some time in the Tahoe region? Is Camille next? And, what about that Tahoe moon?

Now we’re deep into Borg territory of chases so detailed the reader feels each turn of the wheels between car and skateboard, each punch and rib-cracking blow in brutal fisticuffs and exactly how deep Spot (McKenna’s faithful Harlequin Great Dane) can bite to hold down a bad guy.

We’re kept guessing as the “who” emerges, but the “why” is something else. All the while, we learn about deaf culture, the market for stolen catalytic converters, the fascinating world of skateboarding, specifically longboarding, the history of ghost artists (writers, painters, composers), insurance fraud, the dark web and the difference between amateur hired killers and professional hitmen.

And will “Tahoe Moon” reveal just how deeply McKenna and Street have been touched by the now-orphaned Camille? Is a foster family or adoption in her future?

I won’t say more, but McKenna is back – big time.

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Sunny Solomon
Sunny Solomon
Freelance writer at Clayton Book Club | Website

Sunny Solomon holds an MA in English/Creative Writing, San Francisco State University. She is a book reviewer for “The Clayton Pioneer” and her poetry and other writing has been published in literary journals, one chapbook, In the Company of Hope and the collection, Six Poets Sixty-six Poems. She was the happy manager of Bonanza Books, Clayton, CA and Clayton Books, Clayton, CA. She continues to moderate a thriving book club that survived the closure of the store from which it began. Sunny currently lives next to the Truckee in Reno, NV.