Head Shot (Marko Zorn #2), by Otho Eskin

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Otho Eskin, and Oceanview Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Otho Eskin returns with the second in his Marko Zorn crime thriller series. Taking a more international approach to this novel, Eskin provides moments of political intrigue and international coup plotting, while using a local murder to tie things to Washington, D.C.. Hoping for the same grittiness I found in the series debut, I was, at times, left feeling as though this was a ‘cozy murder mystery’, based on the narrative and ongoing dialogue. However, into the latter portion of the book, Eskin found his stride and turned on the proverbial engines to race towards the finish line, using a coup attempt to bring the story home. Entertaining and easy to read, Otho Eskin keeps readers turning pages.

Things do not begin well for Metro D.C. Homicide Detective Marko Zorn. A shot at him while outside his home leaves Zorn wondering who he’s upset now. Summoned to meet a man best left in the shadows, Zorn is tasked with protecting the new Montenegrin prime minister, while being reminded of some covert business he recently completed on a side trip to Chicago. Zorn is ready to help serve as part of the security detail, as long as it does not interfere with his day job.

Speaking of that, Detective Zorn is called to the scene of a possible suicide by gunshot, though many believe the dead actress may have been murdered moments after exiting the stage during a recent play. Zorn finds himself shocked to see that the actress is a woman with whom he has a past, though he seeks to shelve those feelings and get to the bottom what’s happened. This pulls him into the middle of a ‘dramatic’ world, where enemies are plentiful and the competition is ruthless.

While trying to focus on the murder investigation, the prime minister arrives in town and makes her way to the embassy. There, Zorn seeks to make introductions and lay the groundwork for how things will go during the state visit. He’s doubly tasked with protecting the international guest by a senior member of the US Administration, showing Zorn that people mean business.

When additional bodies close to the Montenegrin leader turn up strangled, Zorn realises that trouble is lurking. Things get much worse as attempts on his own life begin to occur in rapid succession. Zorn will have to use all his resources to locate the hired assassin, ensuring he neutralises them before more blood is spilled on US soil. All the while, the dead actress turns out to be part of a larger conspiracy, with Zorn in the crosshairs. A chilling story that, at times, proves to be as gritty as the series debut.

My recent discovery of Otho Eskin has proven fruitful as I found myself enthralled with this series. I devoured both books Eskin has published and am eager to see what is to come. Eskin builds on the Marko Zorn character, a gritty detective with a number of skeletons in his closet, adding more depth to the protagonist’s abilities and personality. Even with some shaky narrative moments, I am still eager to see what is to come for this rule-breaking cop!

Marko Zorn is still complex, working both sides of the law as he remains calm and collected throughout. There are some curious aspects to his backstory, revealed through some personal memories, as well as a strong focus on the law and how to protect those around him. Zorn is always ready to use his determination as a cop to get answers, even as it puts him in serious danger. While not a spy, he knows how to rub elbows with those lurking deep in the shadows and finds himself the target of the most ruthless international individuals. There’s a great deal more to discover about this man and how deep his connections go!

Otho Eskin proves himself a master storyteller, as I have come to see with these first two books. His debut was both gritty and full of mystery, with this one following suit, though it teetered on becoming a cozy mystery for a time. The narrative had moments of greatness, particularly when tackling the international angle, offset by some hokey moments at the theatre during the early stages of the plot’s development. The darker side of Marko Zorn is surely on display yet again, as some of his past handlings of events for nefarious people comes to light in passing. The reader remains invested in the process with some short chapters that tease major plot twists. International flavouring and layers of deception kept the story balanced and pushed me to keep reading well into the evening. I’m interested to see what’s next and how Otho Eskin will present it to readers.

Kudos, Mr. Eskin, for another strong piece of writing. Your experiences shine on every page.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Reflecting Pool (Marko Zorn #1), by Otho Eskin

Eight stars

Otho Eskin emerges as a new writer on my radar, with a captivating crime thriller that left me wanting more. Set in Washington, D.C., the story is a mix of crime and politics, as a DC Metro Homicide detective seeks to find answers when a body is found close to the White House. Marko Zorn does his own thing, but strives to get results and ensure the criminal element are put away. While he is stonewalled during an investigation, Zorn uses all the resources at his disposal to learn more about the victim, as well as her possible involvement with a supremacist group. All the while, Zorn is given a mission by a shady individual, which will force him to put some of his police ethics aside for results. Eskin delivers with his series debut and I have the second ready to begin soon!

When called to the scene of a body found in the Reflecting Pool, DC Metro Homicide Detective Marko Zorn begins asking questions. He receives significant pushback from the start, as other branches seek to claim responsibility. However, Zorn is not ready to hand everything over, citing jurisdiction. When the victim turns out to be a member of the Secret Service, things take a definite turn and Zorn feels the squeeze once more.

While trying to investigate, Zorn discovers that there is more to the victim than meets the eye. She has loose ties to a white supremacist group, whose membership includes those within the White House. As the investigation proceeds, many try to shut it down and ensure that Zorn does not have access to what he needs. This only lights a larger fire under Zorn, as he pushes for answers.

All the while, Zorn is pushed into the middle of another investigation, this one thoroughly off the books. Someone with pull on the streets of DC is trying to make a place for a shipment of illegal arms. Zorn is told to handle it and finds himself a target for the duelling factions. He has to keep this hidden, as its discovery could ruin his life with Metro. While both situations come to a head, Zorn ha no choice but to make a play, ensuring that he will be in the crosshairs of some powerful people. A chilling story that flows quickly and proves entertaining for all involved.

I only discovered the work of Otho Eskin because I was granted early access to an ARC of the second novel in the series. Happy to discover new authors I can potentially enjoy, I rushed to get this book and see what it would be like. Eskin develops a gritty detective with a number of skeletons in his closets and a personally to boot. I was thoroughly intrigued throughout the book and cannot wait to see where this series is headed soon.

Marko Zorn is quite the complex character, tapping into some interesting personal and professional aspects throughout the novel. While there are some curious aspects to his backstory, leaving him to make questionable choices, Zorn is always ready to fight for what he feels he must in order to allow justice to prevail. His determination as a cop proves to be one of the key aspects of the plot, pushing people round to get answers and also showing off some of his more ‘interesting’ qualities. I am eager to see how he develops throughout this series, as he is certainly still an enigma to me.

Otho Eskin can certainly spin a a tale, as I have come to see here. His debut was both gritty and full of mystery, while always remembering the message it sought to make. The narrative pushed forward with ease, allowing the reader to experience some of the darker sides to Marko Zorn. With mid-length chapters, the reader is invested in the process and cannot help but push onwards to discover what awaits them in short order. A curious plot and layers of deception kept the story on point throughout and left me wanting, no, demanding more. Thankfully, I have that ARC ready to go as I explore more of the curious works of Detective Marko Zorn.

Kudos, Mr. Eskin for a wonderful debut. I am eager to see where things are headed.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons