Reviews: RIGGED, Jake Longly #4
In Lyle’s fast, fun fourth Jake Longly thriller (after 2019’s Sunshine State), Longly describes himself as an “ex–major league baseball stud, restaurateur, defender of frivolous lawsuits, lover of women, well, one in particular, and for sure a world-class avoider of work.” He reluctantly helps out at his father’s Alabama PI firm, where his girlfriend, Nicole Jamison, and his best friend, Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers, work as operatives. Pancake is assigned to the financial side of the divorce of a woman he last saw in grade school, Emily Patterson. He’s looking forward to meeting Emily again, but she fails to turn up for their appointment and is later found murdered, along with her friend Jason Collins. Drugs found in Jason’s pocket and the gangland-style killings lead the local police chief to suspect a turf war between rival dealers. Emily’s brother hires the Longly team to bring her killer to justice. The characters are fresh and well-defined, but it’s Jake’s snappy patter and amusing riffs, often focusing on his monumentally annoying ex-wife, that drive the narrative to its Glock-blazing conclusion. This series just keeps getting better.
D. P. Lyle has once again written a plot that keeps Longly fans and all thriller readers on the edge of their seats. Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers is like most people in the world. He had a first-love back in his day, 6th grade to be exact, and has never forgotten sharing his first kiss with her all those years ago. Also like most people in this world, Pancake never really assumed that he’d see Emily, his childhood sweetheart, after they’d grown up.
Now, however, Emily is headed for a divorce. Living in the “artsy” town of Fairhope, Alabama, she’s in the midst of leaving her husband and embarking on a new future. Longly Investigations is charged with researching all the financial aspects of the couple that will be involved.
A dark cloud of worry forms, however, when Emily doesn’t appear for the meeting that was set up with Longly. Things go from nervous to nightmarish when her body, along with the body of Jason— one of the two men she’s been dating—are found murdered. They have been executed, and Pancake immediately calls in Jake, Nicole and Ray for help.
Pancake is determined to find justice for the woman who once stole his heart when they were only kids, but as the investigation moves forward more suspects and motives seem to come out of the woodwork. From a man who will soon be Emily’s ex who just happens to have an alibi that would stand up in any court; to a boyfriend who could very well have been jealous over Emily dating him and Jason at the same time and wanted to get revenge—the possibilities of why she was killed quickly add up.
It’s the truth that readers will love to sink their teeth into this one.
The plot is fantastic, the action is fast, and Pancake steals the heart.
Jake Longly is the Bartleby of detectives: he'd prefer not to. Who can blame him? He's living the sweet life, owning a Gulf Coast bar/restaurant and dallying with the luscious Nicole, who, he mock-laments, is insatiable. Plus, his father is a real PI who occasionally pulls Jake into snoop work, though this time it's an investigation by Jake's buddy, Tommy "Pancake" Jeffers. The nickname comes from his time as a high-school footballer, when he left opponents flattened like pancakes. Pancake is looking into the finances in a divorce involving his grade-school love, Emily, and he yearns to rekindle the spark. Too bad Emily is murdered before that can happen. Heartbroken, he asks Jake to catch the killer. Their poking about uncovers a shadow world of drugs and violence, and Lyle writes about it in a stripped-down style with nice, low-key touches. Afternoon melts "toward evening, the shadows long and muted." There's nothing low-key, though, about Nicole when fight time comes. Her clash with the villains is worth the price of admission.
The Big Thrill:
In these trying times we can all use a smile, but rare is the writer who can get a chuckle out of his readers while delivering edge-of-your-seat suspense and thrills. That’s one reason D.P. Lyle’s latest novel RIGGED is such a glorious find.
This is the fourth thriller in the Jake Longly series, and Longly is certainly the hero, but it’s Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers who kicks off the case. Jeffers is spurred to action when Emily, his sixth-grade crush, is found murdered execution style, along with one of the two men she was dating. Pancake calls in Longly and the team to find the killer. And while Ex-professional baseball player Longly could make any bad guy run for cover, Pancake, at six foot five and 275 pounds, is even more intimidating despite being a nice guy at heart.
“Yes, you would love him if you met him at a party or anywhere else,” Lyle says. “Unless, you’re a bad guy, then he just might dismantle you. Literally.”
Pancake is bound to Jake, and his girlfriend Nicole, who he would protect to the death. His nickname, from his football days, refers to his ability as an offensive lineman to make pancake blocks---those that flatten the opponent.
The plot leads our heroes through dark secrets, convoluted motives and startling methods of murder in the idyllic community of Fairhope. Alabama. Location makes good fiction feel real, and this one is not made up. Lyle says the real Fairhope is a wonderful town and anyone who visits the Gulf Coast of Alabama should drop in.
“Very artsy and upscale with lots of restaurants and bars,” Lyle says, “and it sits on the East side of Mobile Bay—facing west so the sunsets are spectacular. It’s quaint and quiet and that’s why the murders in this story are so upsetting to the locals—fictional locals of course. Page and Palette, the bookstore used as a scene setting in RIGGED, is a wonderful store. I’ve signed and given a talk there in the past.”
The victim in this case is not one with lots of obvious enemies. Emily is, in fact, a wonderful person, kind and generous, good worker, loyal, smart and reliable, although her personal life is a bit convoluted at this point.
“She is simply going through the dissolution of a marriage,” Lyle says, “so yes she is dating two guys, one more serious, the other friendly. She is loved in the community and that also makes her murder more startling. She was Pancake’s 6th grade sweetheart, his first love.” Which explains why he takes her murder very personally.
Like the earlier books in this series, the murder and other criminal activity shown are real and gritty. Still, this entire series is comedic in nature. Lyle effectively takes a lighter hand with the darker stuff and unlike most such attempts, in his books it works marvelously.
“Most of the comedy comes from Jake’s odd take on life and his seeing of any situation,” Lyle says, “and from the interactions of the various characters. So it is more or less a Sit-Com with crime. To understand Jake and Nicole’s banter and jousting with each other watch an old Tracy-Hepburn movie.”
To an extent you can see Jake Longly as an amateur sleuth. Generally he gets involved with cases because of his father Ray who runs a sought-after Private Investigator business.
“P.I.s get into these types of situations all the time, it’s just that the ones Jake, Pancake, and Nicole get involved with are a bit quirkier. Still down and dirty, but off kilter a bit. Thus the comedy.”
Lyle is a multi-talented author. He’s a cardiologist who, in addition to his thrillers, has written mysteries, science fiction, and popular nonfiction about forensics. In addition to writing, he is a sought after consultant who has worked for more than a dozen television shows. Some of this work concerned storytelling but most deals with medical and forensic science, two areas he knows a lot about.
“I think those who reach out for my help know that I can bring both scientific and storytelling elements to their work in progress,” Lyle says. “It’s one thing to know science, it’s another to make it story friendly. “
Lyle actually has two successful series going right now. In addition to Jake Longly’s humorous adventures he writes the Cain/Harper series which is darker and a more traditional thriller series.
“I try to complete one from each series each year,” Lyle says. “I go back and forth, and I find that that keeps getting stale at bay. Each series requires different storytelling techniques, with a lot of overlap of course, but a different mindset and focus. I find that alternating series books in this way keeps me more engaged in the one I’m working on.”
You can’t go wrong with any of Lyle’s work, but if you have a taste for the rare book that will both thrill you and make you laugh, RIGGED is the book for you. ---By Austin S. Camacho
Book Review Crew:
Tommy Jeffers, also known as Pancake, works as a private investigator in Gulf Shores, Alabama. His firm is hired by Emily, his sixth-grade love interest, to look into her husband as she has just filed for divorce. Before they have a chance to meet, Emily turns up dead along with one of her current lovers, Jason. They were both shot execution style. This is when Pancake calls in the rest of his team; Ray, the boss; Jake Longly, the namesake of this series; and Nicole, Jake’s girlfriend. They are on the hunt to find who in this small town had the means, motive, and opportunity to kill these two wonderful people. The most obvious choices are Sean, the soon to be ex-husband; Curtis, Emily’s second lover, and a wide variety of local and non-local drug dealers. The issue is that absolutely no one looks good for this murder. Can Jake, Pancake, and the rest of their crew solve this case and find justice for poor Emily?
This book was very enjoyable to read. It is my first time reading a Jake Longly novel, and I had no trouble immediately connecting to the characters. I could not put this book down, and it was so easy to read. I felt like I was along for the ride trying to solve this mysterious case of the execution of Emily and Jason. There were twists and turns that seemed to go absolutely nowhere. It was such a great journey to be on trying to find out who was responsible. Lyle is such a great writer, and I am extremely excited to look into more of this series. I highly recommend this book!
Lesa’s Book Critiques
From what I've read, the first books in D.P. Lyle's series might have been thrillers. But, the latest "Jake Longly Thriller", Rigged, is not. It was fun, and I really enjoyed the characters. Jake reminds me a little of Archie Goodwin with his wisecracks. He also reminds me of all of those private investigators who are run over by women.
When Rigged opens, Jake is on trial. Fortunately, his ex-wife's new husband, a savvy attorney named Walter Horton, gets him off. Walter later hires Longly Investigations for another case. That firm is owned by Jake's father, Ray, and he sends Tommy "Pancake" Jeffers to Fairhope, Alabama on that case. Pancake and Jake both went to school with Emily, and she was Pancake's sixth-grade girlfriend. Now, she's Emily Patterson, and she hired Horton as her divorce attorney. He wants Longly Investigations to dig into background. What does he need to know about Emily and her husband, Sean?
Pancake, who knows his way around computers, knows all about the Pattersons' finances. Everything looks good. But, Emily doesn't show up for her meeting with him, or for her job, and her employer says she's reliable. After a few other meetings, Pancake goes looking for her. Because he finds her car, and her new boyfriend's truck at her house, and no people, he contacts the local police department. However, it's a neighbor who finds the bodies of Emily and Jason, shot in the back of the head, execution-style. Now, Pancake calls in Ray, Jake, and Jake's lover, Nicole. The police chief agrees to share information with them, and for one dollar they take the case on behalf of Emily's brother.
Sean, Emily's husband, has a sound alibi. He was working on an oil rig out in the Gulf. So, the team decides to investigate the drug angle. They split up, and Ray and Pancake team up for one course of action, while Nicole and Jake ask questions locally. The team meets up regularly with the police chief for reports. And, sometime in the course of the case, Jake has a wild idea or two as to what might have happened.
I really enjoyed Rigged, and I recommended the series to my brother-in-law. Humor, the sexual innuendos, jokes about Pancake's appetite, the investigation. But, Rigged wasn't a thriller. It was good detecting work with a quirky cast. Just my kind of cast of characters.
Fresh Fiction Review
Tommy Jeffers (aka “Pancake”) is on his way from Gulf Shores to Fairhope to reconnect with an old friend. He and Emily Patterson were an item in sixth grade but haven’t seen each other since. This visit is to check into her financial affairs for her lawyer because Emily is divorcing her husband, Sean. Pancake arrives at the bakery where Emily works, but Emily is not there. The owner says this is very strange, because Emily is always on time, or lets her know when she’s not coming in. Tommy goes to Emily’s house, only to find the front door open, her car in the garage and a truck parked in the driveway. But no one is there.
The next morning, a neighbor of Emily finds two dead bodies on his property. The police identify them as Emily Patterson and Jason Collins, Emily’s new boyfriend. Pancake calls in his boss, Ray Langley, of Langley Investigations, along with his best friend Jake Langley (Ray’s son) and Nicole Jamison. The local Chief of Police isn’t too eager to have outside investigators prying around in this murder case but relents when Emily’s brother hires Ray to find out who killed his sister, execution-style. As the team begins putting the pieces together and interviewing people, everyone has an alibi, and there are very few leads. Could drugs be involved? Can the team find Emily’s killer before this becomes a cold case?
I’m so glad that D.P. Lyle has given us another adventure in his Jake Longly Series. He’s one of my favorite authors. RIGGED is an intriguing story of the adventures of this mismatched entourage who work together to solve this murder case. The storyline is a creative one, and the plot takes many twists and turns but moves along quickly. New characters keep popping up in the investigation, and Mr. Lyle seamlessly works them into the story. The touches of humor throughout and banter between the characters is very refreshing. This series just keeps getting better and better. Although this is a series, RIGGED can be read as a stand-alone. But you should really read the first three books and enjoy those adventures too!
Tommy "Pancake" Jeffers has never forgotten his first love, Emily Patterson. When Emily files for divorce, her attorney asks Longly Investigations to check out finances. Pancake heads to Fairhope, AL, where he hears nothing but good things about Emily. When she doesn't show for their meeting, Pancake calls on the local police chief. Emily and her boyfriend are found dead, shot execution-style, so Pancake calls his boss, who brings in Jake Longly and his lover, Nicole. Emily's husband was on an oil rig at the time of her murder, so the investigation focuses on a possible drug connection. The story unfolds slowly, while the characters are the actual draw in this book. There's a great deal of humor in the conversations among Jake, Nicole, and Pancake. The sexual innuendo and off-the-wall phone conversations with Jake's ex are fun. VERDICT The follow-up to Sunshine State is labeled thriller, but it's a step-by-step investigation with a great deal of dialog. The witty banter and Jake's character might remind readers of Rex Stout's Archie Goodwin. Fun for those with a penchant for good conversation and detectives under the thumb of a beautiful woman.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN
A picturesque small town. A sweet, straight-laced woman whom everybody loved.
A double homicide that catches even the local police by surprise.
In Rigged (Oceanview) the fourth in the Jake Longly thriller series by DP Lyle, Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers, one of the sleuths at Longly Investigations, arrives in the quaint town of Fairhope, AL, to examine the finances involved in the divorce of a young couple, Sean and Emily Patterson. Everything sounds copacetic — except for the fact that Emily just happens to be Pancake’s sixth-grade sweetheart whom he’s never forgotten, and before Pancake has the chance to see her again, tragedy strikes.
When Emily doesn’t show up for work, Pancake knows something is wrong. Soon enough, the police find her body, abandoned in a rural field alongside that of her new boyfriend Jason. Both were murdered execution-style with drugs found on the scene. Since neither victim was a known user, the cops are left with a host of questions and a pool of potential suspects, including Emily’s soon-to-be-ex-husband Sean, a local drug-dealing duo and Jason’s shy romantic rival Charlie.
Determined to solve the shocking murder of his childhood love, Pancake teams up with the town’s police department and quickly enlists the help of his detective boss, Ray. He also calls upon his best friend (and Ray’s son) Jake Longly, a former baseball player who is begrudgingly dragged into his father’s world of private investigation, as well as Nicole Jamison, Jake’s flirty new girlfriend who is equally skilled at charming her way through an interrogation and beating up the bad guys.
Like the best buddy cop shows, Rigged follows its team of quirky and confident private eyes as they attempt to crack the case with their tough street smarts and quick-witted banter. With nearly every possible motive on the table — from jealousy to drug wars to greed — the gang at Longly Investigations embarks on a winding chase through Fairhope, where the alluring facade of Southern small-town perfection is threatened by shady drug dealings and potentially lethal love triangles.
Rigged will appeal to fans of murder mysteries who prefer their crimes served with a side of comic relief. Though the killings are grisly, the lighthearted caper never strays too far into the darkness. Even when confronting a violent drug lord or ducking from flying gunshots, the Longly detectives keep their cool and manage to sneak in more than a few wisecracks.
Following DEEP SIX, A-LIST and SUNSHINE STATE, this fourth Jake Longly installment finds Jake amusingly mulling that he’s “an ex-major league baseball stud, restaurateur, defender of frivolous lawsuits, lover of women, well, one in particular [Nicole Jamison], and for sure a world-class avoider of work.” Jake’s PI papa, Ray, agrees wholeheartedly with the latter part of his son’s micro-autobiography.
Jake’s best buddy and Ray’s hardworking investigator, Tommy “Pancake” Jeffers, heads to southern Alabama’s Mullins Bakery to reunite with sixth-grade sweetheart Emily Patterson. “The fluttering in his stomach wasn’t simply hunger.” But Emily, uncharacteristically, is not there. Is she avoiding an old flame, or is something more sinister going on here?
Pancake Block is football terminology, from which former lineman Jeffers earned the moniker “Pancake.” He isn’t in the Mobile Bay area solely to meet a former sweetie. Emily intends to divorce Sean Patterson, who works an offshore oil rig more time than he is home, and has a second job. The couple accepts the kaput conjugation. She’s now a client of Ray’s PI firm, and Pancake is there to ferret financial records. It seems that his former flame inherited a house and other assets from her parents.
Emily has been seeing Jason Collins during the pending divorce. Pancake hopes to find Emily at her house, but sees only an open door, along with Jason’s truck and her car. “Love triangles can make even the most passive person do stupid stuff.”
A farmer reports to Police Chief Billie Warren two bodies a mile from Emily’s house. “Jason Collins’ exit wound had taken out his left eye,” a plastic bag of drugs found in his pocket. “Didn’t take a lot of investigative skills or years of experience to know what had happened. This had been an execution. Pure and simple.”
Assorted drug dealers and other nefarious sundries cloud the investigation “like a putrid fog.” The plot takes serpentine twists: “What before had been simply confusing was now a writhing snake pit. And the list of people who knew the truth was dwindling by the minute.”
This solid thriller by master forensics expert (FORENSICS FOR DUMMIES) D.P. Lyle culminates the Jake Longly series. Jake’s witty investigative skills --- and banter with teeth-clenching ex-wife Tammy --- make for a thoroughly satisfying summer read.
RIGGED concludes with a bang, a shoot-’em-up not portrayed since the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid finale or high noon at Tombstone’sO.K. Corral, the Old Kindersley livery stable.
Looks At Books:
“Rigged” by D. P. Lyle is part of the “The Jake Longly” series, but every reader will quickly fall into the rhythm of the narrative, and be captivated by the characters. The greatness of a story hinges on superb characters, plot, and setting, and “Rigged” has all three. The Gulf Coast draws readers in with its splendor, and the specific localities can easily be seen on Google Maps. The plot is not just another case, but it is a personal journey from the start.
Despite the geography and the plot, there would not be a story without Lyle’s characters. “Rigged” is not about the end, it is about the trip and this specific trip with these people. They do not have cases, they have situations. They might be someone’s best friend or worst nightmare. The book is just a reason for readers to spend time with them. Jake Longly is an ex-major league baseball stud, restauranteur, defender of frivolous lawsuits, and a world-class avoider of work. Too much real thinking gives him a headache. Nicole Jamison is a screenwriter and assistant PI. She knows Krav Maga, loves fast cars, and is excellent at multitasking. She is smart, good with people, and able to keep Jake on a short leash. Tommy Jeffers, aka Pancake, is a best friend, has crazy computer skills, and baby sits Jake and Nicole, well just Jake; Nicole can take care of herself.
The story unfolds in Jake’s first person narrative, not really a narrative in the formal since, just a good ol’ boy telling a story. It is conversation driven with short crisp sentences filled with focus, meaning, and a friendly but probing attitude.
“Rigged” is a thrill ride through the Alabama Gulf Coast in a criminal sort of way. There are unlikely victims, lots of questions, and diverse plot elements. People do not have to be smart to commit a murder, but need brains to get away with it. They think they are smart, but Jake, Nicole, and Pancake have the brainpower to catch them. I received a review copy of” Rigged” from D. P. Lyle, Oceanview Publishing, and Independent Publishers Group. I loved every word.
King’s River Life:
Longly Investigations includes Ray the owner, his son Jake, Jake's girlfriend Nicole, and Tommy "Pancake" Jeffers. They are currently investigating the finances of Emily and her husband Sean who are in the process of divorcing. Emily was Pancake's first love, and he has never forgotten her. When Emily fails to show for their first business meeting, Pancake is thrown into a turmoil. Shortly after the missed meeting Emily's body along with the body of the man she had been dating are found in a neighbor's field killed execution style. Pancake is devastated and is determined to find the murderer.
Is Emily's soon-to-be ex-husband, Sean, involved even though he has an iron-clad alibi? Sean was working on a Gulf Shore oil rig at the time. Was it the second man who Emily had been dating, even though she considered him just a friend? Had he wanted more? Was it someone who had a beef with Emily's boyfriend and Emily was just collateral damage?
As Pancake and the team investigate, drugs come into the picture. A small amount of drugs had been found with the bodies and as the team digs deeper into the town of Fairhope, Alabama, they find themselves scoping out the local drug community for suspects and reasons. Soon they have a whole new list of suspects to follow up on. Can Pancake and the team find the murderer and provide Emily with justice or will they fail?
This was an intense read that kept me turning the pages. The characters are well-drawn and never lose their focus. The murder plot is cunningly twisted and will keep you guessing right to the final confrontation. I highly recommend this book and series to anyone who enjoys a great mystery thriller because the author always delivers a fantastic adventure!