Fourth Down and Out. Finished 11-4-14, rating 3.5/5, mystery, 256 pages, pub. 2014
The job seems easy enough at first for private investigator Andy Hayes: save his client’s reputation by retrieving a laptop and erasing a troublesome video from its hard drive. But that’s before someone breaks into Andy’s apartment in Columbus; before someone else, armed with a shotgun, relieves him of the laptop; and before the FBI suddenly shows up on his doorstep asking questions.
Soon, there’s a growing list of people with a claim on the computer, all of them with secrets they don’t want uncovered. When one of those people ends up dead, Andy has his hands full convincing authorities he’s not responsible, while trying to figure out who is—and who’s got the laptop—before someone else dies. Soon the trail leads to the last place Andy wants to go: back to Ohio State University, where few have forgiven him for a mistake he made two decades earlier in his days as the Buckeyes’ star quarterback.
It’s Rivalry Week here in Ohio. We play that team Up North this Saturday so I thought it would be a good time to review this book about an ex-Ohio State quarterback. Ohio State is a big school, when I was in the early 1990’s there were around 60,000 students on the Columbus campus. Never a dull moment, especially on Game Day. Football is king even when we had an excellent basketball team. In 1995 as I was finishing up my student teaching I was out one night with a friend when she introduced me to Kirk Herbstreit and if football is king, quarterbacks are super-sized kings. (And for those of you who are College Game Day watchers, yes Kirk is really that good-looking in person) So, it’s obvious why this mystery set in Columbus appealed to me.
Andy did something bad and now years later, even after serving his time, Columbus still hates him (why he is stayed in Columbus is still a mystery). He does some PI work to make ends meet and withstands the comments and glares from those who still recognize him. When he takes a small job and agrees to wipe a laptop clean he becomes the target of violence and theft and not one to let things go he starts his own investigation that leads to more questions and danger. He isn’t a particularly skilled PI but he gets the job done.
This is perfect for Columbus residents and college football fans. The mystery itself becomes a little convoluted but the setting of Columbus is spot on and I loved revisiting the city I lived in 4+ years. Especially notable is the German Village bookstore, The Book Loft that has 32 rooms of books in every nook and cranny and is a must visit if you are ever in the area. I loved the nod to Ohio State football history in the naming of the main character and his dog. Seriously how cute is the name Hopalong for a dog?
Author Welsh-Huggins is a long-time AP reporter and this is his first book and the beginning of a series about Andy. I’m looking forward to seeing what Andy (and Columbus) is up to next.