Tahoe Ghost Boat: An Owen McKenna Mystery

Driving down Spooner Summit on my way to South Lake Tahoe from Reno, I had no trouble staying below the speed limit because around almost every bend in the road was a scene from Tahoe Ghost Boat or an earlier Borg mystery. I happily remained in the slow lane so I wouldn’t miss anything.

At Tahoe Keys I unpacked, relaxed and read the last thirty pages of the book, although “relaxed”  is not the state I was in when I finished. The contrast between the heavy winter snows in Tahoe Ghost Boat and the frighteningly dry Sierra of this August day gave me pause and reason to think about changes. Tahoe Ghost Boat  is more than a bit of a change for Borg’s low-key, but heroic ex-San Francisco cop Owen McKenna, and all who know Tahoe well can expect climate changes will leave their mark on the next Tahoe adventure.

What Borg does best is write a fast paced, intelligent mystery, keeping his readers on their toes before being swept away in an avalanche of a finale ending. Sort of like the last three minutes of a really good fireworks display. Tahoe Ghost Boat begins with a mysterious boat accident that is followed by the introduction of McKenna’s next client, the boat captain’s not-so-grieving widow. She is vain, shallow and not McKenna’s favorite client, but typical of the genre, our private detective is in a bit of a dry spell and will take what he can get.

It’s the client’s fifteen year old daughter, Gertie, who takes the mystery to the next level. She is estranged from her once divorced and now widowed mother and lives with an ambivalent father in Sacramento. Vain mom is threatened with blackmail in connection with her husband’s death. The threat is pay up or die and the death threat extends to Gertie. In spite of McKenna’s warning when he meets Gertie in Sacramento, just days later she is kidnapped and Tahoe Ghost Boat shifts into high gear.

Action-packed is putting it mildly. Enough to say that Gertie, a truly neat softball-loving teen, has found a place in McKenna’s heart and he will do anything to find her. Once found, he again will do anything to keep her out of the hands of the men behind the kidnapping and all the while the reader is learning more about some fabulous lakefront homes, explosive technology, a bit about kayaking, Sierra Nevada College, and how to make an object of any size fall to topple a prey (with a nod to Paiute lore).

Who are the bad guys? What do they want and why? It takes McKenna and all his law enforcement cohorts to identify them (and a few surprises). Spot the Great Dane and Street who loves bugs as much as she loves McKenna don’t hurt, either. Todd Borg has written McKenna into some pretty tight cases, but this one comes down to the very last moments, with some amazing and unexpected help from Gertie.  Prepare for fireworks!    – Sunny Solomon      (First published in the Clayton Pioneer 8/29/14)

Also available by Todd Borg: Tahoe Death Fall; Tahoe Blow Up; Tahoe Ice Grave; Tahoe Killshot; Tahoe Silence; Tahoe Avalanche; Tahoe Night; Tahoe Heat; Tahoe Hijack; Tahoe Trap; Tahoe Chase.

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