Wilson crafts a classic crime thriller plot and combines it with a complex sense of place in this multifaceted novel. The mystery is a joy to read, as its simple beginnings give way to a much more complicated truth with plenty of twists and turns to follow. The mystery may bring readers to the table, but the vibrant characters and Jackson Hole setting should keep them turning pages.
Joe Kilgore, The US Review of Books
“If our questions seem impolite, I definitely do not apologize. A young man has been murdered and your client is sitting here telling us lie after lie.”
If you like your crime stories tough, tight, and intelligent, this one’s for you. Fans of Craig Johnson’s Longmire mystery series may be particularly drawn to this story of murder, blackmail, and political intrigue that unfolds amid the splendor of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. Unlike Johnson’s tales however, this police procedural is less about a laconic county sheriff and more about a Chicago Federal Agent. Dean is the big city cop on sabbatical out west attempting to come to grips with the recent passing of his wife. The apparent accidental death of an assassin with ties to Chicago mobsters, coupled with the too coincidental shooting of a local real estate agent, gets Dean pulled into the investigation. What follows is a complex plot worthy of Raymond Chandler comparisons. Sex scandals, money laundering, human trafficking, and impending presidential elections all collide as Dean attempts to help local authorities plus his superiors in the Windy City—all while dealing with his grief.
Wilson does an excellent job of creating flesh and blood characters to populate his pages. Their physical characteristics help them spring to life and their behavior and motivations seem honest and natural as well. He also drops in a couple of surprises by including a real-life politico everyone will know plus a thinly veiled TV personality whose pompous bloviating is easily recognizable.
This novel has the satisfactory feel of an old school practitioner plying his trade classically. The author’s writing is crisp, clean, and confident. You’re unaware of what he’s setting you up for, you’re shocked by some twists and turns along the way, and you’re not disappointed as every single loose end gets neatly tied. Let’s hope there’s more to come from this author in the future.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review
The Grand by Dennis D. Wilson is a highly engrossing political crime thriller debut novel. I really had no idea what to expect as I started reading this book, but after a couple of chapters I found myself completely engrossed in this story and almost unable to put it down. It is a slow-build murder mystery set in a small town, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and one of those books that grow on you as the story progresses.
“The story begins with a bang (literally) and from there the emotional roller coaster doesn’t stop until the last page.” Hayden Smith, a real estate broker from Wyoming and its most eligible bachelor, walks in on a couple having sexual intercourse, a circumstance which will set in motion a chain of events culminating in death. Pretty soon things go south for all concerned.
Chicago Federal Agent Dean Wister happens to be vacationing in the area. After losing his wife to cancer, he finds it difficult to come to terms with his loss and is ordered to take a three month leave of absence. He decides to go to Jackson Hole, the place where he first met his wife. Did I mention that he talks to the ghost of his wife, and only her nocturnal visits keep him from a total breakdown? I found those chats very touching.
Meanwhile a notorious Chicago hit man is killed in a freak car crash in Teton County. When the body of a local real estate agent is found soon after and another agent has gone missing, the local sheriff suspects foul play and asks Dean’s help solving the case. Soon Dean finds himself entangled in an investigation that tests his skill and endangers his life. While investigating, he finds the time to save an abused dog from a cruel owner and he earned many brownie points for that! The name of the dog most assuredly will put a smile on your face, let me tell you!
The plot thickens when the breadcrumbs trail leads to a wealthy tycoon, a presidential candidate, a local crime lord, and a Chicago mobster. Add to the melting pot money laundering, blackmail, shenanigans, murder, drama, twists, red herrings, and political intrigue and you get a gem of a book!
What begins as a seemingly simple mystery ends in a more complex place than the reader could ever expect. There are many plot threads running through the story and they all intersect. At first I didn’t feel the thriller moments, the hold your breath as you read moments, but then it started to evolve and escalate. The book wraps up well, and most of the loose ends were tied up very neatly. “The ending was definitely hold your breath drama and I loved, loved, loved it!”
The Wyoming setting is beautifully constructed and there’s a solid cast of supporting characters. The plot takes a while to get going due to a heavy emphasis on character development, not a bad thing. The author does a great job capturing the personalities of his characters and bringing them to life. The writing is excellent and mystery was well-laid out. I sure hope there is a sequel in the cards.
The author has seamlessly woven themes of fallible human nature, loss, friendship, love, hope, human trafficking, and prostitution. The message that life should go on and experienced to the fullest comes across loud and clear. In addition to the excellent job the author did in establishing a sense of place and characters, I also really liked the way he incorporated into the narrative the political issue, though I am not into politics. This added a sense of authenticity to the story. The chapters are relatively short and it keeps the action going. “The plot has continuous twists in store, but it still manages to reflect the psychological depth of the characters.”
I enjoyed the book immensely so rate it 4 out of 4 stars! More of a political thriller than an action thriller, this is definitely worth a read if you are looking for something to stretch your mind and horizons. If you are looking for an intelligent, high spirited, in depth plot and don’t mind a bit of cussing, you should most assuredly pick up this book. Definitely recommended to readers who look for a thriller with an edge!
Jame DiBiasio, author of “Bloody Paradise”
If you like James Lee Burke, you’ll enjoy Dennis Wilson’s debut, “The Grand”. Set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a Chicago cop mourning his wife finds himself entangled in a murder investigation – of a known Mafia trigger man. Who had the assassin been sent to kill, and had he already reached his mark? The mystery deepens around the involvement of a Senator running for President, a rich Russian up to no good, and a banker with a mysterious sister. The plot twist midway through the book was well executed and makes “The Grand” a rewarding read. Wilson also paints Jackson Hole in bright mountain colors, showing how this bastion of the skiing wealthy mixes uneasily with self-styled cowboys, hunters and desperadoes. 5 out of 5 stars.