Review: Daingerfield Island
Publisher: BrickHouse Books; Baltimore, MD.
Author: John Adam Wasowicz
Reviewed by: Ralph Peluso, Literary Editor
Zebra Rating – 5 Stripes
Tucked in between North Old Town and Reagan National Airport is the often-unnoticed spit of land called Daingerfield Island. This dank, flat, and partially wooded park is not an island at all. But the secluded parcel is the ideal setting for the start of an espionage mystery. Although visible from the windows of descending planes, most passengers pay no attention as they ready for landing. Countless others have stared blankly out of the window, never noticing anything of significance. On this particular Halloween evening, one passenger was attentive. He scanned the water for the lifeless woman’s body floating near the shore. And from there, this page-turner crime story accelerates.
So why does a successful prosecutor from Arlington take on the challenge of writing a mystery? “Well, I have always admired the fictional detectives who occupy a special place in our literary culture – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot,” he says. John Adams Wasowicz’ central figure, Elmo ‘Mo’ Katz, certainly fits that bill. Katz possess an indomitable spirit and an instinct for sifting truth from a plethora of fiction to solve cases.
Readers may picture him in a rumpled beige raincoat with the “Ahhhh, just one more thing” inquisitiveness of Columbo. Like most fictional detectives, Katz must use perseverance and hard work to exonerate clients.
Katz is a defense attorney with an admirable track record who is always looking for the loophole in the law to set his clients free. Even those who are guilty. Katz takes on a client accused of murder around disconcerting circumstances. But Mo doggedly stays on the path, following every loose end until the truth emerges. Wasowicz cleverly uses his home territory, Northern Virginia, as the backdrop to aid the intricate plot line.
“My inspiration comes from the likes Ian Fleming, Raymond Chandler, and David Baldacci,” he says, “all of whom created unforgettable characters, whether it’s a British spy or a noir detective trolling the streets of LA.”
Washington, D.C., Metro area is froth with political scheming and three-letter agencies. This enables the author to deftly draw from his 15 years of prosecutorial and criminal defense experiences that keep the anticipation real. The story is filled with hairpin twists and unexpected turns. “My book mirrors a lot of the cases I handled in my law practice,” the author added.
The question is, can Mo Katz become D.C.’s version of Alex Cross, or even 007? What better place than right here for Mo to solve political foul play?
John and his wife reside in the Wessynton neighborhood, near Mount Vernon. There they raised three sons, all graduates of the public school system in Fairfax County. Now an empty nester, he can devout plenty of time to Mo and his crime solving capers.
This is a well-paced read that will keep the reader interested. A solid read for those winter nights quickly approaching. Rating 5 Zebra stripes.