“It started with a girl. It always starts with a girl, doesn’t it?”- Nine Toes In the Grave
It seems the name Eric Beetner is on everyone’s lips in the crime fiction/noir world. He’s on a record breaking pace as he’s been publishing books left and right in 2015. After reading and loving Rumrunners earlier this year, I was excited to sink my teeth into Nine Toes in the Grave. This book does everything right and further demonstrates that Beetner has a keen eye on how to plot a book that never allows the reader a chance to catch their breath.
When Reese gets work at a roadside diner, he finds more than he bargains for. He begins an affair with Moira, his boss’ wife. What he envisions as a quick fling turns into a request for a murder. Knowing he’s capable of having an affair with a married woman, but not capable of murder, he refuses to be a part of Moira’s plot to kill her husband.
But Moira’s plan was never as simple as taking no for an answer. She commits the murder herself, and, with a willingness to lie and some DNA evidence she covertly squirreled away, she sets up Reese to take the murder rap for her while she plans to sell the diner and disappear into the sunset.
As Reese attempts to get away with his freedom intact, he stumbles into an even deadlier plot involving crooked lawmen and murder. If Reese has any hope of making it out of this predicament with his freedom, or even his life, he’s going to have to stay two steps ahead of the shady cast of characters Beetner has put on his tail.
Beetner’s plotting is the key to this great book. Every chapter seems to bring on a new twist and leaves you racing into the next chapter to see what he has in store for you. It is criminal how entertaining Beetner makes this book. Why criminal? Because murder, double crossings, and a woman with no heart shouldn’t be this fun to read about. I enjoyed reading Reese’s decent into hell and you will too.
“… There was a girl. We fucked, then she fucked me. I … bit on the first bait that was dangled my way because I’m an idiot. Turns out the bait was bad news …”
Bad news for Reese . . . but great news for us.
Review by Derrick Horodyski