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Penguin: Putnam Trade Spring 2019

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The Good Detective
By (author): John McMahon
9780525535539 Hardcover English General Trade FICTION / Thrillers / Crime Mar 19, 2019
$36.00 CAD
Active 6.3 x 9.3 x 1.1 in 320 pages Putnam G.P. Putnam's Sons
A New York Times Book Review Top 10 Crime Novel for the Year

“John McMahon is one of those rare writers who seem to have sprung out of nowhere. His first novel, The Good Detective, which is pretty much perfect, features a decent if flawed hero battling personal troubles while occupied with a murder case of great consequence to his community.”—New York Times Book Review

Introducing Detective P.T. Marsh in a swift and bruising debut where Elmore Leonard’s staccato prose meets Greg Iles’ Southern settings.

How can you solve a crime if you’ve killed the prime suspect?

Detective P.T. Marsh was a rising star on the police force of Mason Falls, Georgia—until his wife and young son died in an accident. Since that night, he’s lost the ability to see the line between smart moves and disastrous decisions. Such as when he agrees to help out a woman by confronting her abusive boyfriend. When the next morning he gets called to the scene of his newest murder case, he is stunned to arrive at the house of the very man he beat up the night before. He could swear the guy was alive when he left, but can he be sure? What’s certain is that his fingerprints are all over the crime scene.

The trouble is only beginning. When the dead body of a black teenager is found in a burned-out field with a portion of a blackened rope around his neck, P.T. realizes he might have killed the number-one suspect of this horrific crime.

Amid rising racial tension and media scrutiny, P.T. uncovers something sinister at the heart of the boy’s murder—a conspiracy leading all the way back to the time of the Civil War. Risking everything to unravel the puzzle even as he fights his own personal demons, P.T. races headlong toward an incendiary and life-altering showdown.

Story Locale: A fictional small town in Georgia named Mason Falls

HOOKS THE READER RIGHT AWAY: Immediately placing a troubled character in an impossible position, with high stakes both personal and procedural, The Good Detective hooks the reader within pages.

CHARACTERS TO ROOT FOR (AND WORRY ABOUT): Still heartbroken from the loss of his wife and son, constantly making decisions that endanger his reputation and well-being, determined to do great detective work but all-too-often undercutting his own efforts, P.T. is a character readers can invest in. And his partner Remy and his bulldog Purvis make for good traveling mates.

SWIFT, SPARE PROSE: With writing that grabs you by the lapels, John McMahon keeps a reader’s attention from beginning to end.

STRONG CATEGORY: Detective novels are perennial bestsellers and a Putnam mainstay, and this will please fans of Nick Petrie and Ace Atkins.

START OF A SERIES: We own two novels by McMahon, and P.T. Marsh will return in future adventures.

John McMahon studied Creative Writing at The University of Arizona. In his role as an ad agency creative director, his work has won a Gold Clio for Fiat, and he’s written a Super Bowl spot for Alfa Romeo. He currently lives in Southern California with his family and two rescue animals.


“This unusually accomplished debut is the first in a projected series; with Marsh still having demons to deal with, the table is set for much more compelling, character-centric stories to come. Crime-fiction fans are advised to get in at the start.”—Booklist

“Southern gothic mingles with modern noir…”—Kirkus

“[John McMahon is] a talented writer with a good sense of place, and readers are sure to look forward to Marsh’s next outing.”—Publishers Weekly

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