Desolation Flats

Written by Andrew Hunt
Review by Lorraine Norwood

The third book in Andrew Hunt’s Art Oveson mystery series takes place in Utah as war looms in the 1930s. Auto racers from around the world have gathered on the Bonneville Salt Flats, east of Salt Lake City, to compete for the land speed record. Art Oveson of the Salt Lake City Missing Persons’ Bureau is called in to investigate when wealthy Englishman Nigel Underhill is found dead and his brother Clive disappears. A former Scotland Yard detective hired by the Underhill family also joins Oveson, and both search for the murderer and the missing brother.  Oveson soon learns that his best friend and former partner, Roscoe Lund, is the number one suspect in Nigel’s murder, a charge Oveson sets out to disprove.

As the trail leads out of the Utah desert and to London and back, Oveson encounters fascists, bigots, police injustice, and a German auto racer with a mysterious past. Worse Oveson’s big brother Frank, an FBI Agent, seems to want Lund to take the fall for the murder. Spies, the looming war, and dark secrets lurk behind the sand clouds at Bonneville as Oveson seeks the truth and suffers the consequences.

This is an entertaining police procedural, with a refreshing location (Salt Lake City) and protagonist, a Mormon deputy. The author, Andrew Hunt, grew up in Salt Lake City so he knows it well.