After watching umpteen debates this election season, I was ready for a mystery involving a campaign especially when it came from an impressive author that I have just discovered. Alan Oroff’s first book, “Diamonds for the Dead” was a finalist for the prestigious Agatha Awards for a first time author. He has now started the Last Laff Mystery series that centers on Channing Hayes, a comedy club owner and comedian. Orloff’s second book in the series “Deadly Campaign” will be released in January 2012.
The story begins at a campaign event for Edward Wong, at his uncle Thomas Lee’s restaurant, located next door to the comedy club. All of a sudden during the event, masked men enter with baseball bats and break up the restaurant. The campaign wants the incident hushed up, but Thomas Lee asks Channing to try to figure out what is going on. The search takes Channing through the dark world of gangs, gambling, payoffs, affairs, blackmail and murder.
The story offers a complex whodunit for the election season. Wong is a young Democratic contender who is the pride of his Chinese family and community. Running against him is the Republican incumbent, a seasoned politician with a well-run organization.
However, as in “Diamonds for the Dead”, this book offers many facets. In that book, Orloff explored in depth the relationship between a father and son. In “Deadly Campaign” he examines a multitude of relationships that people have with their fathers. The book depicts fathers that will do anything for their sons to absent fathers. It illustrates how alcoholic, absent or disapproving fathers can affect a person. The book also explores substitute fathers or men that have become the father figure in the character’s life.
Further comparing the two books, in “Diamonds for the Dead” Orloff explores the Jewish culture and in “Deadly Campaign the Chinese culture. In both he analyzes friendships and loyalty.
Orloff handles the sociological/psychological aspect of the books with great finesse. He has been able to combine a deep thought provoking subject within the context of a fun page turning mystery.
I liked this book and new series and strongly recommend it. A comedy club and comic offer a fresh setting. I predict this will be a long and successful series.
Five stars out of Five.