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Greasy-spoon maven returns to save the day

Wiltzen is back with the continuing adventures of diner matron/detective Mable Davison in Missed Me.


Missed Me

Book 2 of the Mabel Davison Series

By Trevor Wiltzen

315 pages

$3.99 Kindle, $11.99 Paperback, Free Kindle Unlimited

Local devotees of homegrown authors, especially those who write crime-fighting fiction featuring unlikely heroes, haven't had a chance to miss Trevor Wiltzen. The former director of St. Albert's heritage sites has turned into an author, and he isn't likely to turn back. When you consider the success of his first novel, Heart of a Runaway Girl, popping out a sequel less than nine months later must mean he has tapped into a rich well of narrative ore with a good, strong lead character who practically writes herself.

"Actually, believe it or not, I wrote three books in a row," he confessed, skipping over the fact he worked his way to that point over a 10-year span.

"I know it's crazy, but each book took me about six weeks to write the first draft. I started out with the idea of Mable — single mom, the waitress in a small mountain town. I knew she was going to be investigating crime, and for some reason, I just loved her voice. I knew who this character was really well just naturally. I just started off with the story and I just didn't stop for four-and-a-half months of writing."

That prolific period with more than 200,000 words on the page has definitely paid off. He released the first title featuring grassroots detective Mabel Davison back in February. Heart found "the matron in the apron" conducting her own investigation into the disappearance and murder of a young woman, which leads her to taking on the drug lord of her small mountain town.

Mabel is the champion when one is desperately needed. Running a diner is one thing, but seeing evil in the community and taking the matter into her own hands is another thing entirely. After all, it's not like the rest of her life is working out the way she wanted it. She's a single mom who didn't graduate high school. She took over the diner as a way of helping out her ailing parents. No, she's not a rockstar detective like Sherlock Holmes. She's just a regular person who just can't ignore problems that are as big as these ones are.

In Missed Me, the intrepid hash-slinger finds herself helping out another single mother whose daughter has gone missing. The town sheriff doesn't have the gumption to stand up against the same venomous racist kingpin whose drugs have been putting a rot right in the middle of the placid village among the peaks. When Mabel's own niece goes missing, the plot gets even thicker and stickier than a pile of diner hotcakes drowned in syrup. With rising tensions in the streets, saving the young women is just the beginning of Mabel's troubles needing to be solved.

This second sleuth story is just as enjoyable and un-put-down-able as the first.

"She's a very emotional, caring person. I see Mable as a single mom who cares about family and kids, and she cares about community. When she sees people in trouble, she will do something and she will be dogged in how she pursues it to make sure the community and children can be safe," Wiltzen said. "She's just a very hard worker — a caring person that ask questions when other people don't. She just carries forward to try to help people in need."

Infallible? No. Relatable? Yes, and readable, too. Mable is a real gem and it's great to have her back in action for those who need some comfort fiction on these frosty nights. Book two is as much of a page-turning reader-pleaser as the first one was.

And for those who are paying attention to Wiltzen's release calendar, he hopes to have the third book in the series out in the spring.