The Bottom Line: Buttman delivers the goods for series fans while tackling one of society’s most gut-wrenching issues.
One of the most endearing things about David William Pearce’s Monk Buttman Mystery series is that its hero has never taken himself too seriously. The theme continues here, as the series’ fourth installment opens with Buttman witnessing the bulldozed remains of his beloved home while being threatened at gunpoint. Thanks to his unflappable nature and gift for persuasion, he walks away without so much as a teardrop or a scratch.
That’s not to say that Buttman is a calculating, cold-blooded operator. Far from it. In fact, he may be more motivated than ever by his loyalties to certain women, family members and friends. After receiving an unexpected windfall cash earlier in the series, Buttman is in a generous mood. After giving one of the women in his life money to facilitate the sale of the apartment complex he had called home, he’s also providing a big house for others to live in. One of them, Anna, calls him “Mr. Sunshine.”
Meanwhile, he still owes some very nasty people. His perfectly authentic response when threatened: “Get in line.”
In this fourth book, Buttman is shaken by the death of his brother, Jacob, a Marine. He soon finds that that several of Jacob’s fellow Marines have also died from suicide, murder or murder-suidcide. Buttman and his father, Moses, decide to look into what happened to the platoon during its last tour in Afghanistan. In the real world, the soldier suicide rate is 50% higher than the civililan average, making it one of society’s most disturbing issues. Through Buttman’s personal loss, Pearce treats the subject with the seriousness and reverence the subject deserves while keeping his hero in character.
Soon, Monk and Moses find that their investigation is attracting attention from some very dangerous people. The result is an entertaining and thought-provoking murder mystery that series fans will love. Newcomers should start with the first series book and read them chronologically.