Wednesday 20 May 2020

DAVE PEDNEAU - A.P.B. (1987)


Special investigator Whit Pynchon and crime reporter Annie Tyson-Tyree race against time to find the psychotic killer who is murdering the wives and girlfriends of all the cops in the small West Virginia town of Millbrook

First in a series of six books from Dave Pedneau featuring special investigator, Whit Pynchon. All of them have the quirk of being titled in the fashion of cop terms......D.O.A., B.O.L.O., A.K.A., B. & E., and N.F.D. (I had to look the last one up.)

Well I liked it, but I'm not quite sure if I liked it enough to get the second in the series and read on.

A cop's wife is savagely killed and events are arranged by the killer so that her husband discovers the body. A second killing happens in a similar vein - different murder method, but a cop's wife is the victim and he finds her.

What we have is special investigator, Walt Pynchon looking into the murders at the behest of his boss, maybe the DA, or local Mayor or some such dignitary with authority (CBA to checking) and much to the chagrin of the local police force who can't stand the man.

Pynchon is arrogant, self-important, dances to his own tune and has little time for the local police or the press. Or pretty much anyone, apart from his adult daughter who he sees fairly frequently but who lives with the ex-wife. The ex-wife is hostile and appears to be the only person who cam emasculate Pynchon.

It's quite a busy book. The main suspect has recently escaped from a mental facility where he was incarcerated after him and his brother attacked the police. The brother died, so our escapee has motive. He hates the cops and is unstable.

We have a pushy, feisty female journalist out to make her bones on the back of a headlining story and the inevitable hostility between her and Pynchon which predictably ends up with the pair of them dating and becoming an item.

More deaths occur, there's increasing tension between Pynchon and one of the local cops, who is a bully. This cop has a wandering wife who could probably be called the town bike. Factor in a horny teenager, sexual frustration, panic in the community, negative press coverage and increased local political pressure, and another cop with an overdose of testosterone highlighted in his overbearing pursuit of a lady and there's more than one suspect to ponder.

The pace is reasonable and the book never drags. Things escalate towards the end and there's quite a bit of blood spilt along the way. I never really felt totally invested in Pynchon's kind of lauded super-cop investigatory powers. I kind of felt the killer came unglued towards the end and more exposed himself as opposed to anything Pynchon did to bring him down. That said, right up until the meltdown, the author had done a good job in concealing the killer's identity, or at least keeping me guessing.

I didn't dislike the book overall, but neither was I dazzled by the prose, the plotting or anything else. It's the sort of book, you read on to find out what happens because you're curiosity has been piqued ..... a book to pass the time before the next great read rocks up.

Dave Pedneau also penned a few standalone novels before his death in 1990, in his early 40s.

Read - May, 2020
Published - 1987
Page count  - 360
Source - purchased copy
Format - Kindle


  1. I would have problems with a pushy, self-important protagonist but if you had been more enthusiastic I might have been interested for the West Virginia setting.

    1. Tracy, I maybe mellowed a bit towards him by the end of the book, but there isn't enough about him to make me seek other books out.

  2. I'm with Tracy about the West Virginia setting, Col. I find that appealing. And there are other other things about it that I could see enjoying (I like journalists as major characters, for instance). Not sure I'm keen right now for all that blood, though, especially if the plot and characters didn't draw you in deeply. Clever idea about the titles, though...

    1. Margot, I didn't dislike the book. I kind of hoped to have enjoyed it a bit better though. I liked the press intrusion/pressure into the investigation and you do see another perspective with the journalist. Agreed regarding the titles.