The second book in the Miami Jones series by author A.J. Stewart finds Miami Jones answering the call of an old girlfriend. Miami Jones is a former minor-league baseball player turned private investigator. People tend to hire him when they want investigations handled in a way the local authorities won’t, either by pressing the envelope further than they should or by keeping details away from the public.
In this case, a star athlete at the college where his former friend runs the athletics program has apparently overdosed. It’s a small college that’s been looking to build a name for itself in the sports arena, and this comes as a shock to everyone there… or does it?
Miami must delve into the world of college sports and it’s competitiveness and deceitfulness, along with corruption that reaches into the Miami Police Department. Along the way he encounters mobsters and alligators. It seems like everything a novel in Florida should be, but it’s also more.
I liked Offside Trap a lot more than the first novel Stiff Arm Steal. Although the humor was still present at times, this had a much grittier feel to it. Maybe there was more the sense of real danger as Miami and Ron (and Danielle) try to walk a tight line between the law and the mob to discover what’s really at the heart of what’s going on at the University. I definitely felt more drawn into this story and cared more about the characters.
The story is well-paced, although I felt like there were times it dragged, such as when Miami is detailing his attempts to dodge campus security. He’s narrating it, so every single detail of certain escapades is given, and sometimes they are there for no purpose than to entertain or prolong the story. I could have done without that. Still, everything moves along at a good pace and events and clues seem to flow and come together in a very natural way. There’s more going on everywhere Miami looks in his investigation and it seems like everyone is keeping secrets.
I like Miami here. The tone seems less Myron Bolitar and more towards a serious detective. It could just be the difference between a murder and a burglary case, but he doesn’t come off as flippant here and I liked him a whole lot more. His life seems to be in serious jeopardy at times. I also liked that he is surrounded by strong women, rather than women there just to be pretty and go to bed with him. Danielle really gives him a run for his money as a police officer and the athletic director is another no-nonsense woman, rather than being mere fluff.
I’d definitely start with the first book in the series as a way of getting acquainted with the characters, but if you’re not so sure after reading that, be sure to give this one a chance.