Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Review: Missing in Mexico by Stuart Gustafson

A ripped from the headlines type of mystery is what you'll discover in Missing in Mexico by Stuart Gustafson.

College students Sarah and Mary spend some time vacationing in Mexico. But when Sarah doesn't get on the plane for home, private investigator Stan Walkorski is hired by Sarah's parents to find out what happened to her.

Racing against the clock, Stan's investigation finds him jaunting between the States and Mexico to uncover clues about Sarah's disappearance. When he receives a mysterious letter claiming to have information, he hopes he's finally gotten a lucky break.

Mysteries have been one of my favorite genres since I was a kid, but I feel they are one of the most difficult genres to write. There are so many details; so much that has to be relayed and figured out; so many twists and turns that have to be inserted to provide the reader with the necessary suspense, and usually a way to keep the reader guessing until the very end who the true culprit is.

Gustasfson puts his years of travel experience to great use in creating a mystery that takes place between the States and Mexico. Once Sarah has disappeared, Stan is quickly called in to investigate. As a newcomer to Los Cabos, Mexico, the sights, sounds, and food of the area are just as enticing to Stan as the mystery he needs to solve. It is clear as the reader moves through the story, that the author has extensive knowledge of the area. In some ways this is an excellent thing. It gives the reader a strong sense of place as Stan works to find Sarah.

The challenge, however, is that Stan's discovering Mexico almost takes precedence over him finding Sarah. Instead of asking Mary where she and Sarah went while they were in Mexico, Stan and a lady friend he meets on the plane, spend time going business to business to learn if anyone has seen Sarah. Granted, he might want to do some of that anyway, but one would think he would have a game plan put together based upon information from Mary to help speed the process along. Because so much detail about the area is included, the book is overly long, slowing down the pace of what should be a suspense-filled page-turner.

I would also have liked a deeper point of view. The reader only gets to scratch the surface of Stan. I can't say I knew him much better by the end of the book than when I started. The mysteries I enjoy most have a strong male or female lead whose head I can get into. I want to experience everything with them and truly get to know them. Even the relationships Stan develops with women are shallow. The women come into his life, and then they're gone, without a good reason why.

Missing in Mexico's blurb is what encouraged me to review the book. The idea is intriguing. A good editor could have helped mold this promising mystery into an even stronger story. I would be interested in reading the next travel mystery Gustafson is writing to see how he approaches his second novel.

Book Details:

Publisher: AITE Publishing
Published: May 2011
Genre: Mystery Tourism

Missing in Mexico is available at: Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can purchase the printed book on the author's website (shipping is free).

Stuart Gustafson began writing in earnest after taking early retirement from the corporate world in 2007. His professional life involved travel and so it was natural for him to want to continue traveling once he didn't have to travel as a job. Now when he travels, it's for fun; it's for pleasure; it's to see new places in the world. The way he has chosen to combine his love of travel and writing is to write mystery novels set in exciting locations around the world where he likes to go.

His debut mystery novel Missing in Mexico is set in San Jose del Cabo at the tip of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, a charming location where he has spent 2-6 weeks each year for the past eight years. This is how Stuart researches his books, by immersing himself into the culture of the area, and getting to know the people and their charm. The best compliment Stuart has received was at a local event in San Jose del Cabo and some of the residents told him that Missing in Mexico was indeed about their town and would he please consider writing another book about San Jose or at least about Cabo.

His second mystery novel, set in Sydney, NSW, Australia, is already underway, and Stuart took five trips to Sydney in 2010 to conduct research of the area to once again ensure that the book, even though it's a fictional mystery novel, would still contain authentic details. Publication date for that book is set for early 2012.

Stuart has been married for thirty-seven years to Darlene and they have one daughter and one son. Stuart and Darlene live in Boise, Idaho.

You can find Stuart online at:




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