Medusa's Lair
by Kenneth Funderburk
Author's Tranquility Press

"What is it that you always say, ‘Don’t die before you’re dead’? I’ve come to believe that fear of death is exactly that."

Adventure, adrenaline, mayhem, murder, and more combine in this contemporary novel that follows up on one before it and perhaps sets the stage for another. However, one doesn't have to have read the previous book to enjoy this one. The author does a good job of bringing his readers up to speed without recounting more than is necessary. Still, if one is intrigued by this tale of drug running, money laundering, assassinations, and assignations, then one might want to check out the forerunner, The Fish House Gang.

The protagonist and hero of the story is Chic, a practicing clinical psychologist in Pensacola, Florida, who also occasionally provides profiling help for the police. When not involved in those particular intellectual pursuits, he spends his time singing in operas and romancing a knockout redhead named Suzy, whom he happened to have saved from killers before this story began. It should also be noted that Chic is an ex-Army Ranger with extensive experience in the use of deadly weapons, which will come in handy as this tale unfolds.

While the initial setting is The Sunshine State, the action takes place in additional locales such as Louisiana and Georgia, even dipping down into exotic locations like the country of Belize. And action is the keyword as cock fights excite fevered patrons and novices, car chases turn into shootouts, implanted explosive devices wipe out both the evil and the innocent, and gun battles erupt on both sea and shore. A raging storm also raises its nasty head just to keep things interesting.

Author Funderburk's plot has warring drug cartels battling for supremacy. However, even as they do, one of the outfits is determined to eliminate Chic and Suzy for all the problems they caused previously and continue to cause as they look into what actually happened to one of Chic's friends who got entangled in their nefarious deeds. As their investigation proceeds, the femme fatale begins to play a much larger role as the bodies around her fall. She's the epitome of the smart, sinister, sex-craving female who uses both hapless and heartless males to help her carve her own increasingly rewarding niche in their criminal enterprises.

Funderburk weaves an intricate tale as he bounces back and forth between the bad guys' machinations and Chic's often trial and error approaches to gathering the information he needs to bring them to justice. The author keeps his fiction credible by employing an impressive knowledge of devious financial schemes, marine transportation methods, and more. He doesn't shy away from the tawdry, but neither does he slip into vulgarity for its own sake. While much of his subject matter deals with various lowlifes, his prose attempts to keep things on a higher plane. This approach can sometimes feel over-the-top, but it makes up in clarity what it occasionally lacks in subtlety. There's also an interesting inclusion of faith and religion in his primary characters' roles that is not often found in crime and thriller novels such as this one. Readers who enjoy this genre may find themselves inexorably drawn to this entertaining offering.

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