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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Fire on the Mountain: A Detective Mike Eiser Novel is a police procedural mystery novel written by Clabe Polk. While this is not the first novel in the Mike Eiser series, the author gives enough background information for it to be enjoyed as a standalone book. The Haven family had been a fixture in Northern Georgia since the 1800s. Justice P. Haven’s production of alcohol was the mainstay of his business, and his corn crop remained the foundation for that business even as one state after the other went dry and enacted temperance laws. His son carried on the family tradition and became a successful bootlegger while still a teen. Justice and Ezekiel adapted to Prohibition by dealing with gangs and less-than-legal drinking establishments throughout those dry years. Their descendants added marijuana cultivation and sales to the family’s business and, later on, some would descend into the labyrinth of methamphetamine cooking and sales.
Jake, Jason and Jack Haven were triplets, but they exhibited all the unsavory tendencies to be found in the Haven clan and, worse, their rivalries were bitter and intense. Susan, Jack’s wife, would be manipulated and made addicted to meth by Jason, in his attempt to get back at Jack. Susan’s descent into the world of the Havens ran counter to everything her parents had hoped for her. Now, with Jason unavailable or unwilling to continue giving her the drug, she had to resort to visiting her step-brother, Pete, at the little trailer where he cooked up Jack’s meth. Pete had sexually abused her when they were growing up together, and his price for her fix was predictably awful. When Pete’s body was found by hikers, and his laboratory/trailer torched by an arsonist, Eiser’s task was to identify him and ascertain the circumstances of his killing.
Fire on the Mountain is a fast-paced and entertaining novel that features a multi-generational clan currently involved in methamphetamine production and sales. Family interactions are predictably fraught with conflict as personalities differ even within bloodlines, but the Havens are something else entirely. Polk’s plot is well-developed, and his characters, particularly Susan and her mother, Betty, are compelling and authentic. I enjoyed following Eiser and his team as they try to untangle the web of deceit and corruption whirling around the Havens, and had a grand time trying to puzzle out Pete’s murderer. Fire on the Mountain: A Detective Mike Eiser Novel is recommended.