________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 32. . . .April 18, 2014


The Boom Room: A Detective Pratt Mystery. (Rapid Reads).

Rick Blechta.
Victoria, BC: Raven Books/Orca, 2014.
147 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0514-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0515-6 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0516-3 (epub).

Grades 10-12 / Ages 15-17.

Review by Sylvia Santiago.

**½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Gordon stepped right into Pratt’s face.

“Know what your problem is, Pratt? You think you’re smarter than everyone else. Well, you’re not, and I’m going to prove it. A couple hours’ grilling downtown and this kid will fold like a cheap suitcase. You’ll see.”

As Gordon went back into the room, Pratt was thinking it was a good thing they had CCTV in the interview rooms now. In the bad old days, cops like Gordon would have beaten a confession out of the kid.

He sighed. Seldom was a case this easy. The problem wasn’t that he thought he was smarter than anybody. The problem was Gordon’s lack of imagination—and his laziness. If the kid got a good attorney, Gordon’s case could wind up shredded. It did look bad for the suspect, but every aspect of a case should be carefully studied. That was the only proper way to investigate a murder.

He sometimes wished he could take the easy way out—like Gordon.

But then, he knew, he wouldn’t be doing his job.


Detective Mervin Pratt is assigned to a murder investigation headed by his rival on the force, Detective Harry “Flash” Gordon. The murder victim, Joseph Lewis, was the owner of a popular nightclub called The Boom Room. Lewis is found stabbed in his office, and Gordon is convinced that Jamie Clark, a young musician, is the perpetrator. According to witnesses, there was a heated argument between Lewis and Clark the afternoon of the murder. Afterwards, Clark is overheard ranting about what a “scumbag” the owner is. Clark is also seen with a knife which he later claims has gone missing.

     Pratt, however, is not entirely convinced that Clark is the killer. Not only because Clark asserts his innocence, but because Pratt knows that Gordon has failed to examine all the possibilities. Pratt is even more determined to discover the truth when he learns that Clark is the estranged half-brother of his new partner, Detective David Ellis. Pratt carries on his investigation by speaking with key witnesses, including members of Clark’s band, Rotten Attitude; Clark’s girlfriend, Carolyn Tucci; the club manager, Carl Thomson, and the victim’s widow, Margerie Lewis. Hidden motives, illicit relationships and secret identities are revealed. As evidence surfaces that throw doubt on Clark as the killer, Pratt reluctantly allows Ellis to get involved to help clear his half-brother’s name.

     The characters of The Boom Room are familiar ones, from Pratt’s old-school, computer-illiterate detective to Ellis as his young, headstrong partner. In a novel this short (less than 150 pages), more importance is given to the plot than to character development. This is Blechta’s second book for “Rapid Reads”, a series geared towards reluctant adult readers, with the first being Orchestrated Murder. The Boom Room is also suitable for readers aged 15-17 who are interested in mysteries or police procedurals. The emphasis on solving the murder, along with the lack of graphic violence and overt sexuality, make this book a good example of “crime fiction lite”.


Sylvia Santiago works in Libraries & Cultural Resources with the University of Calgary.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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