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Arson and Murder on Lauderdale Beach!

 Our picturesque beach community may never be the same.

I have always believed that you don’t choose the books you read, they somehow find a way to choose you. And this one certainly did. Brady’s Run, a raucous hurricane of a mystery thriller set in Fort Lauderdale, made its way to my hands by an interesting sequence of events. My aunt and uncle, while on a recent visit, made their way one glorious Sunday afternoon to Lauderdale Beach for a day of sand and surf. Basking like lizards, they struck up a conversation with the couple in the neighboring plot of sand. Joseph Collum and his wife were that couple. Cards were exchanged, emails traded, and within the span of a week a copy of Brady’s Run appeared, surreptitiously, upon my doorstep.

There is a singular pleasure in reading a novel set in a locale you know intimately – beyond the scope of the book itself and the enjoyment of its content, the places speak to you, call to mind remembered events and fond recollections of your own. Collum walks his readers, or thrusts them headlong at a galloping and frenetic pace, to be more accurate, through communities and settings so quintessentially Fort Lauderdale – Sailboat Bend, Las Olas, a mega-yacht on the Intracoastal – that one can almost feel the salt on their skin and hear the beats of the beach bars’ music.

Quite simply, Brady’s Run is fun to read. The protagonist, Max Brady, is a tortured and flawed ex-cop from NYC, who turned in the badge to buy a dive bar on the beach and live out his days peddling rum in the sun. His morning runs on the sand are punctuated by scantily clad bikini girls. His afternoons by serving up gumbo and catering to the eclectic mix of clientele that wander into his bar. Though he resists becoming involved, events in his beach community quickly pull him into a dark conspiracy threatening to strong-arm the mom-and-pop hotel owners into giving up their properties. There is bribery, blackmail, arson and murder. Two monster hurricanes. Sex. Booze. And a little more sex. Vixenesque villainesses, and cold hearted moguls. And an unforgettable trip to Alligator Alley.

Joseph Collum is an award winning journalist who, with Brady’s Run, begins a promising new career as a novelist. His next novel in the Brady series, Et Tu Brady, is due out in 2011, from Jigsaw Press.

If you want to see Fort Lauderdale in a whole new, unnerving and wildly entertaining, light, introduce yourself to Max Brady. He makes one helluva drink.

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