By: Phillip B. Chute
Publication date: December 2018
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review date: October 2020
A self-made entrepreneur has it all, gets what he wants, and pays the price when his schemes boomerang in this hard-boiled, atmospheric crime fiction novel by mystery writer Phillip B. Chute.
Chute’s protagonist is a rather unlovable fellow named Raymond McDade who has built up a broadcasting company in Southern California in the 1970s, trading largely on the rapid rise of rock’n’roll. He has a fancy mansion and the money’s coming in, but he needs help – female help. A chance meeting with Alice, an orphan scraping by as a nurse’s aide, leads to a skewed romance based on her desperation and his wealth. Through another chance meeting, Alice brings Mitch into the company – a would-be-cowboy on the shady side of the law who knows how to sell, and will increase McDade’s fortunes with his gift of gab. But as the years go by, Alice is less and less content with her marriage; Ray never takes a day off and isn’t the best lover in the world. A brief affair shows her that she doesn’t have to put herself second, and reuniting with Ray, they agree to start a family. But feelings between them don’t change much. When she meets another man, a decent, caring person whom she’s determined to keep, will Ray let her go? Or will his rage win out?
Author Phillip Chute, a businessman with a sharp mind for what can go wrong and why in the murky world of finance, shows the many ways that Ray rewards himself and bilks others on his path to envisioned success. The overall portrait is of a man obsessed by winning by any means, and keeping it all for himself. Alice, Mitch and others are, in his mind, simply his property. Used to eliminating anything that stands in his way, he will try that tactic when things go wrong in his marriage. Chute states that this highly engaging, action-filled plot is based on true but heretofore unpublicized events. References to contemporaneous popular songs spice the plot. Initial concentration on the cynical bad guys is balanced by the introduction later in the narrative of the alert, right-minded Detective Nelson.
Quill says: Chute’s latest offering - smart, scary, full of grit and grift, building suspense page by page - places this author on the high shelf with Hammett, Chandler, Grafton and Parker.
For more information on Rock and Roll Murders: An Entrepreneur Finds That Murder is No Business Solution (Based on a True Story), please visit the author's website at: www.phillipbchute.com