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Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite
The Tenth Nail is an entertaining police procedural whodunit, written by talented writer, Kwen D. Griffeth. Seasoned Albuquerque homicide detective, Nate Burns, and his new partner, Manuel (Manny) Trujillo, have been assigned a new case; finding the killer of a pretty young streetwalker found behind an alley. Nate quickly takes charge as his younger partner watches him kick out and alienate fellow cops contaminating his crime scene. Nate tells Manny that if it was a john that killed the young woman, their chances of finding him would be about as likely as finding a needle in a haystack. Despite Nate’s somewhat jaundiced outlook, Manny is impressed by Nate’s professionalism, realizing that under the gruff exterior, there lies a man dedicated to doing his job. And what begins as a relatively straightforward case soon has Nate and Manny following up a number of clues and seeming dead ends as their search for young Via’s killer really begins to heat up…
A really good whodunit has two crucial elements – a good plot and solid characters. The Tenth Nail has both. The “buddy cop” relationship between Nate and Manny creates a great dynamic. Nate has experience that demands respect from his peers, albeit not necessarily their friendship. He’s been through the trenches, loves his wife and two kids, and is dealing with personal demons and injuries that make us remember that he’s human after all. In addition to the interesting relationship between the two protagonists, there’s also some great supporting characters that give the story its meat, like Winston Rawls, the boy genius evidence tech whose love for classic movie leading ladies and undying love for his cat, Sir Isaac Newton, add just the right amount of humor to an otherwise grim story. There’s also plenty of twists and turns, not to mention action, as Nate and Manny are put through their paces, keeping the story interesting. Griffeth manages to find the right balance between dialogue and narrative, with the dialogue realistic in its cop speak. For lovers of police procedurals who like a bit of quirk in their characters and a great whodunit, The Tenth Nail delivers on all fronts.