Terry Holbrook heads home from downtown Ann Arbor to Dexter after working his shift as a video editor. It’s a winter night. The highway is icy. The car ahead skids, then crashes. Terry, the everyman in author Mark Beyer’s new page-turner crime thriller, Hired Man, pulls over and rushes to the aid of the injured driver, a wealthy businessman, Michael DeGraaf, who begs Terry to say a prayer.
Terry does his best. DeGraaf implores him to save his daughter and hands over a blood-soaked two million dollar check to make it happen. But before revealing any details, DeGraaf succumbs to his injuries. And Terry, the well-meaning, yet bumbling, family man starts on a quest to save the daughter and bank a million for his struggling family.
Life dream realized
In a recent interview, first-time author Beyer revealed that writing a novel has been a life-long dream. “Ever since I was nine years old, I wanted to write a book.” Beyer has worked as an advertising copywriter, produced television shows, and made commercials. He spent time in the theatre—acting in plays and improv—and even did a stint in Hollywood, enjoying each phase of his creative work life. “But,” he said, “publishing this book blows all (my past experiences) away like they were standing still.”
If Hired Man was as fun to write as it is to read, it’s easy to see why. A visceral tour through Beyer’s Michigan: Detroit, Ferndale, wealthy bedroom communities, the rural thumb, Dearborn… includes thrilling, inventive chase scenes and excruciating teases of violence. We’re sucked into wicked blackmail schemes, disgusted by depraved bad guys and introduced to a complex, enigmatic hero (perhaps an anti-hero?), Pearce Butler.
Butler weaves mysteriously in and out of Terry Holbrook’s story. The reader is introduced to shady characters who seem to be helping Holbrook and, in turn, DeGraaf’s daughter. Maybe some of those characters are Pearce Butler in disguise…then again, maybe they’re not. They seem to be helping Terry… but then again, maybe they’re working against him.
The dark, tantalizing journey to clarity is full of the stuff that makes great mysteries engaging reading. And the idea that the brilliant Pearce Butler is out there in Detroit’s shadows, ready to weave himself through the next Mark Beyer mystery, leaves us, excitedly, wanting more and the author is ready to oblige. “I learned so much, I just want to do it again,” he says. “It’ll go much more quickly next time.”
Here’s hoping that’s the case.
Mark Beyer will read from Hired Man and sign copies 5:30-8:00pm on Friday, June 22nd at Literati Bookstore in
Ann Arbor (124 E. Washington).