AJ Stewart

Book Review: High Lie by A.J. Stewart – Crooked Gamblers in Florida? Now There’s a Surprise…

I’m finally starting to warm up to this series about a private investigator in southern Florida. Miami Jones is his name, and along with a series of peripheral characters, solve mysteries with a little bit of quirkiness, but not quite as far gone as the Tim Dorsey novels.

High Lie is a play on words. Part of this mystery involves the sport Jai Alai, which was once tremendously popular in the south Florida area but has been waning since its heyday in the 1980s. Miami Jones, a former baseball player turned private investigator, is called in by a friend, Lucas, who just saved a boy from drowning who was tossed in the water by a couple of goons. Why would someone want to kill a young boy? Lucas is feeling particularly protective and wants Miami to help him find out so the boy doesn’t end up dead.

Miami follows the clues and ends up immersed in the world of Jai Alai and gambling. Once tremendously popular, it’s now a dying sport hanging on by a thread. Miami meets some of the players still involved in the sport who have a love for it much like Miami’s own for his former sport of baseball. They are all in the middle of a power struggle for gambling revenue, and the next targets seem to be the Jai Alai players themselves.

High Lie is a good, fast-paced mystery. Told in the first person by Miami himself, I found it refreshing as he’s not quite the smart ass that other private investigators are in various series that I have been reading. He’s smart, dedicated, and tenacious. At times, he’s also flippant, but not in a way that got on my nerves. It’s more the same sarcasm that I use at times, so I could relate. I figured out the mystery part of the way through, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to see how it ended.

I never knew much about Jai Alai except for the scenes in Miami Vice back in the 1980s. This was a great depiction of the sport and the players. It’s an intense game and the betting on it was once furious but has dropped off with the waning popularity of the sport. There’s much more to what the players go through to compete and within the game itself and I learned a lot.

If you’ve been reading the series up until now, the character of Danielle, Miami’s girlfriend, is gone for most of this one. She’s off to a law enforcement convention in Atlanta, and while he’s going through solving the mystery, he’s also debating the future of their relationship. It’s a good aside to the mystery that breaks up some of the frantic pace. There’s also the friction still present between Danielle’s ex and Miami, who just happens to be a District Attorney. You don’t really need to have read the previous books in the series as the author provides a bit of background on each character when they are introduced and that’s enough to keep it interesting.

This was a good read that kept me interested and gave me great characters that weren’t annoying. It took me into a different world that I knew nothing about before picking this book up. All in all, a good read for summertime or anytime.

Previous book in the series (link): Offside Trap by A.J. Stewart

Next book in the series (link): Dead Fast by A.J. Stewart

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