Chico novelist Mike Paull, who retired from a Bay Area dental practice, is also a licensed commercial pilot. Aviation plays a central role in each of his three Brett Raven mysteries: “Flight of Betrayal” (2012), “Flight of Deception” (2013), and now, concluding the trilogy, “Flight of No Return” ($15.99 in paperback from Skyhawk Publishing; also available for Amazon Kindle or visit skyhawkpublishing.com).
Raven, also a pilot, is a dentist as well, but in this latest outing he’s mostly out of the office on a desperate mission to reclaim his kidnaped wife and prevent the death of their two babies being carried by a surrogate. The story takes place in 2001 and, unlike the previous novel, when Raven was pretty much in command in pulling a fast one on the bad guys, in the new novel he’s at their mercy.
While Raven is on the West Coast, a strange murder in New York City brings two cops into the investigation that ends up engulfing Raven and his wife, Annie. She had divorced Raven in 1995, married an associate of Raven’s, John Thomas (J.T.) Talbot, and then, in 2000, when JT was reported killed in a mysterious plane crash, re-married Raven. The newlyweds were going to become parents, through a surrogate pregnancy, until the bottom falls out.
It turns out Annie “was in a hotel suite in New York where a murder took place and now she’s disappeared,” as one of the cops summarizes; and then he adds, “One of the guys in that room is”—well, that remains for the reader to discover.
The price for Annie’s return is a large ransom, and no cops. What follows is some good, old-fashioned salty nail-biting suspense as Raven tries to locate his wife while keeping investigators at arms’ length. He has the help of some unlikely friends, but the bad guys have Annie. It’s a page-turning adventure, right up until the very end.
Canyon Oaks Country Club will be hosting a complimentary wine and cheese reception for Mike Paull at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept 18. The public is invited.