Double Dealing in Dubuque (Frank Dodge Mystery #2) by Dean Klinkenberg – A Review
Rating – 3/5
Date of Publication – 7th July, 2017
Goodreads Summary :
Writer Frank Dodge is feeling optimistic for a change. He just landed a plum assignment from a national magazine to write about the growth of boutique food in the Midwest. Dodge’s mood quickly turns sour though when his scheming rival Helen shows up. When a fire erupts at the food convention Dodge is scouting out and two people die, Dodge can’t shake the feeling that the fire was no accident. He puts his assignment at risk when he decides to investigate the cause of the fire. Dodge’s search for the truth takes him from the specialty shops of Galena, Illinois to the murky backwaters of the Mississippi River, landing him in the middle of a volatile feud between ice-cream queen Stella and chocolatier Ashley. Can he keep Helen at bay as he investigates the fire? How far will Stella and Ashley ultimately go to skewer each other?
Narrated by Frank Dodge, a quirky writer with an affinity for trouble, the book is a small town mystery. As this was my first book of the Frank Dodge series, it took me some time to fall into the groove. Although the previous book is not referenced in relation to the plot, the characters descriptions and few background details are carried over from the previous book. This put me at a slight disadvantage as I missed the character development of the titular characters. However, it is unreasonable from my side to expect the author to re-introduce the protagonist in every book of the series. However, more than Frank Dodge, whom I felt was easily distracted with the issue at hand, I really loved his aide Jefferson who was more matter-of-fact and practical. Also, the other characters in the novel were very realistic and multifarious from the bar-keep Lorna to the water rat Big Dan; all were really lovable.
The plot was very light in terms of the writing and the gravity of the mystery. I was unable to keep myself focused even though the book opened with a mishap because the ensuing investigation went hither and thither. For a small mystery, there were a multitude of characters who were shady and falling under suspicion and it took some time to converge on the main plot. It would have helped if there were more distractions and events happening to keep the readers hooked into each and every chapter. More than the plot, the author has excelled himself in portraying the back waters of the Mississippi River. Dean Klinkenberg has painted an immaculate picture of the tourist towns of Dubuque and Galena. The description of the food joints that he has conjured up in these towns will definitely make you drool. Also, the amount of research the author has done into the art of chocolate making is commendable. It was very interesting and informative to add details about CCN-51 in the context of chocolate quality.
Overall, a light mystery that excels in character description and landscape portrayal but sadly falls short in terms of a solid plot.
About the Author
Dean Klinkenberg is a land-locked river rat who writes fiction and non-fiction about the Mississippi River. His mysteries are set in places along the Mississippi River that feature hard-luck travel writer Frank Dodge. In the most recent book, Double-Dealing in Dubuque, Dodge goes to Dubuque, Iowa, to write about craft food but ends up in the middle of a bitter culinary feud. The first book in the series, Rock Island Lines, found Dodge chasing the legend of gangster John Looney. Klinkenberg is also the author of four Mississippi Valley Traveler guides. The most recent book, the Headwaters Region Guide, was a finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. He lives in St. Louis.