In his latest novel, South of Shiloh, Chuck Logan steps away from undercover cop Phil Broker, the central character of six of Logan's novels. But the Stillwater writer sticks with writing crime drama, this time about Minnesota insurance agent Paul Edin, who goes south to Mississippi for a Civil War reenactment. In the heat of mock battle, with smoke plumes from blank rounds clogging the air, somebody shoots Paul to death with a restored musket. Paul's widow, Jenny, teams up with Pioneer Press photographer John Rane (who is also the father of Jenny's daughter, who Paul had been raising as his own). Once the dramatic duo begin to investigate Paul's murder, errantly declared an accident by the police, they stumble onto a land-grab plot, criminals, and Civil War-era prejudice that amazingly still lingers. Logan clearly did his homework for the novel. The richly detailed passages about Civil War gear and history punch up the narrative. Phil Broker has been Logan's focus for many years now, but with a standalone this engaging, it would be a shame if he didn't step away from Broker more frequently in the future.
Mon., April 21, 7 p.m., 2008