Stiff Arm Steal
BJ Baker, a former pro-footballer now turned business man, is used to being large and in charge. So when his prized Heisman trophy is stolen right out from under his nose during a charity event, he makes sure he breaks all hell loose to find it. Calling in the police, the sheriff, and even the mayor is definitely a good start, but for something like this, BJ wants the best, and the best is Miami Jones.
With a name like Miami Jones, becoming a private investigator is practically hard-wired into your DNA. Not one to defy fate, Jones—a former college footballer himself—spends his days finding people and things, with plenty of pit stops at Longboard Kelly’s and long runs on the beach to recharge. It’s a good life, up until a stuffed suit with an attitude shows up, claiming to represent BJ Baker and making insistent demands.
Now Jones and his partner are neck deep, and getting deeper, as additional Heismans start disappearing at an alarming rate. Is someone looking for revenge, or to make some money selling the trophies to private collectors? Is the thief acting out of jealousy, or looking to engage in a spot of blackmail? Whatever the reason, the suspect list is growing, and the pressure is on to stop the thefts before someone ends up hurt. Or dead.
Stiff Arm Steal is what a Florida beach mystery is all about: a lot of sun, a brush up with a mob family, shady characters you can’t help but like, a sporty car, a smooth-talking partner, and a P.I. with a sharp mind and a quick tongue. Put them all together and you get a wild ride, full of enough surprises to keep you breathless and with enough suspense to keep you interested.
For me, the only weak spots in the narrative were centered around the strangely ambiguous relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson that never seemed to gel into a believable marriage dynamic, and the somewhat less-than-convincing interlude regarding Jenny Bellingham, an abused wife who turns to Jones for help. But despite both of these thin spots, I still found Miami Jones and company to be a well balanced mix of intrigue, dry humor, and wit, suitable for holding your curiosity while also making you grin. The pacing is spot-on for a mystery—not too slow, not too fast, and not too much. If you’ve ever dreamed of a world in which Sherlock Holmes wears shorts and flip flops while hanging out at a bar to consider the next steps for solving cases, then A. J. Stewart is the author for you.
Jacaranda Drive Publishing