Monday, October 13, 2014


Title: The Gone Dead Train
Author: Lisa Turner
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: July 22, 2014
Genre: Mystery
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Ellen’s rating: 5/5


After time away to recover from the aftermath of a horrible case that left his partner dead, Billy’s back in Memphis, drawn into an ever-widening murder mystery that focuses on flawed heroes: a disgraced major league baseball player, two legendary blues musicians on the lam, a straight-arrow lady cop tortured by a guilty conscience, and two iconic civil rights warriors with secrets so dark they’ll shock the nation.

Detective Billy Able is at a crossroads. His previous case left him questioning everything he believed about his abilities as a cop and as a friend. Even though he’s considering leaving police work behind, he’s unable to turn off the instincts he’s honed after a decade on the force.

But when he stops a crime from being committed, he finds himself embroiled in a much bigger scandal. A murder that has just taken place has connections to a series of much older crimes dating back to the civil rights movement. As he investigates, Billy uncovers so many layers of secrets he can barely keep the truth from the lies. And he knows the straight-laced cop assigned to the case is hiding something big. But is it connected to the case? This time he’s determined to make sure he finds out the truth before anything else can happen. But as the search for truth with the help of a Santeria Priest leads him deeper into the underbelly of Memphis, will Billy make it out alive?


As it had been a while since I last read a murder mystery, I truly enjoyed reading The Gone Dead Train. After two blues musicians and a former baseball star who asked too many questions were murdered, Detective Billy Able, currently on leave, and Patrol Officer Frankie Malone follow their natural instincts as cops to solve the case. Too bad the cop actually assigned to these murders is a straight laced racist.

I simply couldn't put this many-layered mystery down. Apart from the beautifully written, never-a-dull-moment prose, colorful descriptions of Memphis, and the engaging cast of characters, the thrill of the hunt for the truth behind these deaths kept me turning the pages.

The characters, especially that of the main characters, Billy Able and Frankie Malone, are realistically crafted and well fleshed out. The author created believable back stories for both these characters; back stories that have a definite effect on how they relate to the case as well as to one another.

Other imaginative characters that make this book come alive include J.J. aka Jesus Junior, the SanterĂ­an priest, Sergio Ramos, and Theda Jones, an abused girl with a dream of stardom as well as a suspect who performs in drag at a club.

On the antagonist side of the character cast are two equally cleverly crafted characters. Don Dunsford, a supposed-to-be-good-guy who is, infact, woefully inept at police work and a blatant racist with a nastily malicious attitude towards Billy Able. The other, naturally, is the murderer, whose identity is skillfully kept a secret until just about the end.

With secrets dating back to, and deeply rooted in the civil rights era, The Gone Dead Train is a multifaceted, yet profoundly humane story anybody who loves a good mystery would want to read.


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Born in Memphis, Lisa Turner spent her childhood either on the back of a horse or reading Southern fiction. From the experience of managing her family’s interior design firm, she earned a PhD in the peculiarities of human nature. Currently, she lives in two worlds – the Deep South of her childhood and the wildly beautiful coast of Nova Scotia. 

A Little Death in Dixie is Lisa Turner’s debut novel.

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