From HMS Bounty to a Havana hippo

Crime Fiction

February 04, 2007|By Sarah Weinman | Sarah Weinman,Special to The Sun

The Grave Tattoo

Val McDermid

Bermuda Schwartz

Bob Morris

St. Martin's Minotaur / 308 pages / $23.95

Comic crime novels are exceedingly difficult to pull off, especially as the inevitable Leonard/Hiaasen comparisons set up expectations that disappoint -- and that's before reader tastes about humor kick in. But Morris gets things very right in his third novel, which marks the return of football hero-turned-adventurer Zach Chasteen. This time, he and his longtime girlfriend Barbara are in Bermuda visiting her aunt when trouble, in the form of disappeared money and possible buried treasure, finds Zach in a very big way. It takes quick thinking, much charm and the help of his sidekick Boggy to discern what a slew of crooks (some inept, some dangerously lethal) are after: a two-millennia-old secret that promises riches. No wonder the stakes are so high. Morris' breezy prose gives the reader an entertaining ride, but Bermuda Schwartz gets its heft from crackling dialogue and Zach's equal-footed and realistic relationship with his paramour. Not only has Morris conquered a difficult task, he's developing a series that will bring him even more fans with subsequent installments.

Sarah Weinman reviews crime fiction monthly for The Sun. Visit her at www.sarahweinman.com.

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