Reviewed by Betsy Randolph
Troy D. Nooe’s mystery novel Long-Legged Rosie – Murder in Myrtle Beach transports us back to a simpler time in crime fiction, when gangsters wore pinstriped suits and had the decency to shoot each other face-to-face, often after a brief exchange of insults or perceived wrongs.
It’s the 1940’s. Nooe’s protagonist, Frankie McKeller, house detective for the posh hotel the Ocean Forrest, finds himself unwillingly reunited with his old flame, Rosie Carter, who brings murder and mayhem to Myrtle Beach when she shows up unannounced and unwelcome, pleading for McKeller’s help.
McKeller, a disabled WWII vet, walks with a distinct limp after catching shrapnel in the leg while on a beach “half a world away.” He settles in Myrtle Beach by way of Baltimore after the luscious Rosie Carter dumps him. He claims he and the beach aren’t exactly chums, yet ironically the story begins with McKeller willingly limping toward the two things that brought him permanent scars: The beach and Rosie Carter.
We’re drawn into the story by McKeller’s disarming frankness. Despite his intellect and gut reactions, he acknowledges the probable error in assisting the long-legged Rosie. It’s easy to see that Rosie is manipulating McKeller and more than likely deceiving him as well, yet he willingly complies with her requests.
The Ocean Forrest hotel is a perfect locale for a private, high-stakes poker game hosted by a U.S. Senator and his wealthy friends. But when a possible crime is committed, the tormented McKeller must divide his attention between investigating the crime and spending time with his Rosie—all while suspicions swirl about his involvement in two recent Myrtle Beach murders.
What feels like red herrings sprinkled throughout the story, these “clues” tie together in the climax, ensuring that readers don’t feel, well, misled.
Nooe has included plenty of action and movement and an adequate amount of narrative to showcase McKeller’s distinct dialect and slang.
The narrator’s voice is compelling. Take, for instance, these lines: “It’s a funny thing about guilt. Sometimes you can convince yourself that you have nothing to feel guilty about, but once it’s there it’s a bitch to get rid of. Eventually it comes rolling back over you like waves in the ocean.” Guilt as a theme isn’t unusual, but what is, is the author’s clever use of internal dialog to develop a theme while supplying the ominous backstory and setting necessary for a murder-mystery plot.
Nooe’s choice to reveal McKeller’s strengths and flaws through dialog rather than narrative description works well. One might categorize McKeller’s self-deprecating style as personal sabotage for sympathy’s sake, but it makes McKeller unique and exciting.
Don’t let the cover fool you, Long-Legged Rosie – Murder in Myrtle Beach is a serious book, an entertaining murder-mystery packed with believable characters, interesting sub-plots, and a micro exploration into the human psyche.
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