Dead Drop

dead815C-682x1024Author:  Jesse Miles

Publisher: Jesse Miles Books

Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy Links: author page

Type: Novel

 Received from Publisher


Blurb: Jack Salvo teaches philosophy one night a week at a community college, but he pays his bills working as a private detective in Los Angeles. An aerospace company hires him to investigate a small-time embezzlement. It’s a piece of cake – a direct route to the embezzler and client with deep pockets. The company assigns a pretty, quick-witted security expert named Lilith Lin to work with him.

Salvo is looking forward to a big paycheck and a possible date with Lilith, when another embezzlement and a pair of corpses expand his investigation into more perilous territory. As Salvo searches for answers, from the bland L.A. suburbs to the tawdry sparkle of the Sunset Strip, he is grilled by suspicious LAPD detectives, punched in the face by a dazzling TV actress, and stalked by cold efficient killers.

Salvo’s investigative options are running out when he observes a mysterious exchange of information at a “dead drop” in a canyon near Beverly Hills. From there he descends into a labyrinth of espionage, kidnapping and murder orchestrated by a brilliant, perverted psychopath. Jack’s life and Lilith’s are at stake, as are stealth technology secrets that could impact national security.

Review: Philosophy may not make you much of a living, but at some point it might keep someone from killing you. That’s one thing I learned from this entertaining, well-written first novel from Jesse Miles. And at the very end, I learned why he really used Dead Drop as the title. In some books it becomes apparent simply by reading the back cover. In this book, it becomes apparent literally on the last page–at least to me. Give me your opinion!

Two almost identical embezzlements, dated nearly two years apart, have shown up in an audit on the books at Culver Aerospace. Local Los Angeles P.I. Jack Salvo is hired to investigate; he finds several leads and starts investigating all the players at the company. When he inadvertently flushes out the guilty parties before he can talk to them, suddenly they end up…dead. Oops? It’s a slam-dunk case; the incriminating evidence leads directly to them, and there are the bodies. Case solved?

So with thanks for a job well-done, he’s let go. But he’s still got questions–in fact, now he’s got more questions than he had before. Why does everyone seem to have their own agenda for this investigation? And why do they want him to stop just when they’ve uncovered signs of another “irregularity” that occurred even earlier? Why doesn’t anyone want to know what’s really going on? The upper echelon at Culver seem to want to sweep this under the rug. So, Jack and the intrepid Lilith, Culver’s computer sleuth, set out to investigate on their own–undercover. They’re curious. And we all know what curiosity did to the cat, right?

Miles might have waited a while to start his writing career, but he started with a bang. This crisp mystery–with a soupçon of espionage mixed in–starts out slow but speeds up fast like a run-away rollercoaster. It’s always when you think you’ve got things under control that they reach out and bite. And for Jack Salvo, this case is no exception. As they pull the evidence up piece by piece it becomes more and more bizarre, and Jack and Lilith are struggling to make it all fit together. In the end, Jack’s just out-manned and unfortunately, outgunned. Luckily, he’s got friends in high places and the trust of a good cop on his side to keep him on the right side of the boys in blue.

The writing style is very likable–almost Ed McBain-ish. The detective, Jack Salvo, is mild-mannered and for the most part kind-hearted but very capable of taking care of himself in a fight. He’s not an alpha with a chip on his shoulder or past military with a bad temper and worse control on his trigger finger. He’s your basic old-fashioned P.I. armed with his iPad, ready to sit at the nearest Starbucks and do his surveillance, the twenty-first century way. And I like him, and I liked this book very much. I look forward to more from this talented writer who didn’t skip a beat but wrote a brilliantly funny, sharp mystery without a lot of gratuitous violence, instead filling it with a lot of fast-paced action, self-deprecating humor, and innate style. Let’s watch Jesse Miles go big!

I, for one, can’t wait.


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