J E Seymour
Barking Rain Press

In this second book in the series, Seymour continues with her protagonist Kevin Markinson, although it might be more accurate to say that she backs up a step to relate the circumstances which brought him to where we met him in the first book in the series, LEAD POISONING, published in 2010.

The action in Seymour’s story focuses on three characters: Markinson himself: twelve year old Danny Rutledge who stumbles on Markinson’s hiding place; and the federal marshal called to the scene of Markinson’s prison escape. Not much of the action in the book involves the various law enforcement agencies, Seymour uses them primarily to provide insight into Markinson’s past and expand the reader’s understanding of him, why he tried a prison break; why he attempts to keep Danny safe; and why he lives his life torn between his criminal associations and the family life he still treasures and yearns to get back to.

As this book opens, Markinson is on the run, injured, losing blood, cold, alone, and trying hard to keep his panic and fear at bay. Danny finds him seeking some shelter from the elements in a culvert near a stretch of railroad track.

Danny has been the constant target of a group of schoolyard bullies. Dreaming of the day when he will be a cop or a spy, and an automatic recipient of respect and cooperation from his peers, Danny has often sought solitude in the culvert and furnished it with blankets and water.

Forming a tentative partnership, the two take advantage of Danny’s mother’s absence and return to Danny’s home, with rudimentary plans to evade law enforcement already seeking Kevin. Their plans are upended when a small gang of hoodlums breaks in, looking for who knows what, and quickly escalate the tension by threatening both Markinson and Danny.

Eventually a large law enforcement contingent surrounds the house and the threatening situation explodes into violence. Officers on the scene are able to secure Danny’s safety; and Markinson manages to elude capture and contacts one of his criminal associates for a change of clothing, medical attention, a brief reunion with his family, and temporary safety.

But the federal marshal in charge of the situation has more plans, which will threaten Danny’s freedom, and Markinson must think through a set of alternatives – none of which are completely fool proof.

Kevin Markinson is an appealing character, in spite of his connections to criminal elements. It’s clear he cares for his wife and sons. Readers who were intrigued by the events in the first book of this series will enjoy learning about what came before.

The publisher notes that a third book in the series is under way, and a collection of short stories in eBook form featuring Kevin Markinson – BLACKBIRD AND OTHER STORIES is available from Smashwords.

A R Pickett aka Woodstock