“Murder in the Dell” by Bert Entwistle

Murder in the Dell

Bert Entwistle
Black Mule Press (2018)
ISBN: 978-0-9896-7617-5
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (12/2021)

I first came across this author’s work through a series he skillfully writes starring rancher-turned-private eye, Jack Bannister. I was immediately taken by the descriptions he was able to pen; his words were so well done that any location he was speaking about seemed to come alive in front of me. This particular highspeed thriller with cryptic clues is a bit of a take-off from that series. Although he still uses a small town for the primary location, Entwistle’s established talent for detail and his ability to keep a reader interested while continually keeping them guessing makes him, to me, another “great” in the thriller genre—atop the ladder with Robert B. Parker.

Here, the reader is transported to a small town in Wisconsin called Washburn; a town like the one I grew up in where the most action you ever see is cars rusting and leaves changing before winter comes a callin’. Well, the snow has fallen here in Washburn, on the edge of Lake Superior, and the town is soon ensconced in their “hibernation” mode. The long arm of the law that’s present is Sheriff Deacon Davis. Davis was “Mr. Popular” in high school. He was the star athlete engaged to the head cheerleader, until a driver ran a red light and put Davis on life support and the cheerleader into Heaven. Heading up the tiniest department in the most remote area of Wisconsin, Sheriff Davis is dealing with a case that’s driving him crazy: women have been found in his county, murdered by a serial killer.

Within the department are two deputies and Angie, who has worked for nine years as a combination secretary and dispatcher for the department. The one they seek has been dubbed by the news as the “Black Plastic Killer.” He has dumping ladies in the icy forests of Washburn, and the title given to this demon comes from the fact that the bodies have all been wrapped in a generic black poly plastic used in the construction industry.

As bodies begin to pile up—with only one Jane Doe in the bunch—the FBI starts down one path as the sheriff and his team march in an entirely different direction, trying to stay under the FBI’s radar. Sheriff Davis will not stop until the killer is sitting behind bars and he’s waving goodbye to the agents who have done nothing in Washburn but get in his way. So…which path turns out to be the right one? You have got to read this fantastic thriller to get that answer!

Entwistle has done an incredible job. The passion of the characters, the clues, the small-town cop versus the big guns of the FBI—all people and plotlines were riveting from beginning to end. By adding this standalone to the Bannister series I’m already a fan of, I have to say that I have no doubt this author will make my “Best of” list for many years to come.

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