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The Stories of Jeffrey B. Burton

Sleuth Slayer

America's leading mystery writers are being brutally murdered. Third-tier author Guy Davitt—a would-be Dashiell Hammett—stumbles upon the killer's bizarre M.O. But Davitt cannot convince deeply skeptical police a Sleuth Slayer actually exists. Through a dark labyrinth of film studio power brokers, publishing industry politics, a decadent family's wealthy influence, police immorality—as well as the dawning realization that he himself is on the killer's list—Davitt pursues the truth.

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The Burtons have a damn entertaining book in Sleuth Slayer. I’m a sucker for books with real life people as characters and with their protagonist, writer Guy Davitt, they manage to give an insider's wink to a really great period in time.

Someone is killing mystery writers and Davitt discovers that they are being killed with methods from mystery novels. This has actually been done, but not in this period. Davitt needs to solve the crimes that the police don’t want to admit are linked by fiction before he becomes the next victim himself. The Burtons have a real gift for story telling and this book is compelling and engrossing. It’s kind of like they used a time travel machine to go back and create an alternate reality. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun. If you want to spend a really nice afternoon, kick back with this book. I hope to see more of Davitt and more from the Burtons. Seek this book out, you won’t be sorry.

—Jon Jordan, Publisher & Editor, Crimespree magazine

"Poetic injustice" is a term one could use. Mystery writers begin to turn up dead, and a mystery sits on who is responsible. "Sleuth Slayer" follows Guy Davitt, a lesser known mystery writer who notices the pattern of the mystery writers turning up dead from methods are pulled right out of their novels. Faced with the disbelief from law enforcement, and the entanglement of bureaucracy as he himself realizes that he may be a target, Guy must unravel the mystery before he joins his fellow practitioners of the mystery writing craft. "Sleuth Slayer" is a top pick for community library mystery collections and for mystery fans in general.

—Midwest Book Review

A light-hearted mystery that pokes gentle fun at the world of mystery writing. The Burtons keep a snappy pace, and their dialogue crackles.

—Mary Ann Grossmann, St. Paul Pioneer Press

This is an interesting concept and formed an excellent basis for the well-developed plot with characters who are skillfully portrayed. It is an involving story, well-written with an unusually different perpetrator with a motive that one would never guess. I look forward to reading their next book! RECOMMENDED

—I Love A Mystery

Sleuth Slayer does its own game of grip, release, grip, release, on and on until you think you'll scream. Or did you scream? It gives readers a Gordian knot, a rat's nest, that is today! Witty and wild it squeezes us by the throat— but just enough to keep us breathing—in this masterful tale of death and corruption. Bouquets of cilantro give enough heat to burn your insides, as Burton and Burton twirl to their own “My Fair Google ” and pollute with words as games that infuse your mind. I love to read and write about murderous murder; right now I cannot decide which is best in Sleuth Slayer, the evil within, or the word play that tickles the reader to death. Perhaps it's the artful combination of the two? Tell me! oh yes, please do tell me and keep me from my own murderous discontent!

—Babs Lakey, Founder/Executive Editor, Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine

Sleuth Slayer is a sly and witty mystery that's populated with memorable characters. The book is entertaining, intelligent, and a fun read.

—Barbara Quinn, Publisher & Managing Editor, The Rose & Thorn

Struggling Los Angeles mystery writer Guy Davitt is abruptly woken in the middle of the night by friend and fellow “third-tier” writer, Jax Thornton III. Jax is convinced that the deaths of two famous mystery authors are not coincidental—and they're definitely not accidental, as reported.

Though Connor Alba, the protagonist that Davitt created in a series of novels, never brought him fame or fortune, at least Guy didn't buy his way into the literary community like Jax did. Since Jax doesn't have much talent, his writing career has been successfully financed by his wealthy family. Initially, Guy thinks that this is a just a premise for another one of Jax's ill-conceived novels, and he isn't persuaded by these “coincidental” events—that is, until Jax suddenly winds up dead. Could he have been on to something? Was his death an accident or a successful attempt to shut him up?

Guy feels compelled to look into these deaths. It's the least he can do for his friend, and hopefully he'll be able to reassure himself that they were, in fact, unrelated. When he bounces his ideas off a Mystery Writers' chatroom, he receives a cryptic message from an unknown member. Later, fellow mystery writer Frances Whiting appears at his door holding a gun. Now that's enough to scare him. Frances then reveals that she was almost another victim. Together, they desperately try to find the killer before another author winds up dead.

Sleuth Slayer is a smart and intriguing thriller by father and son writing team Jeffrey B. Burton and Bruce W. Burton. The authors build a solid plot instead of relying on morbid details to hold readers' interest. Yes, they do tease their readers a bit, which—along with the rapid pace and the interesting chain of events—kept me anticipating each page.

I found the book difficult to put down, even though I was confident that I had it all figured out early on. But let me just say that details are crucial, and I was hit with a big surprise at the very end of the novel. In fact, I may even re-read it, just to see if should have been able to solve the mystery sooner, before the authors smacked me in the face.

Sleuth Slayer is a must-read for those who love contemporary crime novels. The fictional Guy Davitt may be only third-tier, but the Burtons definitely are not.

—Jacqueline Jung, NightsAndWeekends.com

Timothy “Guy” Davitt is an average mystery writer who is barely making a living on his mystery series, when his friend and fellow author Jax, tries to convince him that someone is murdering mystery authors. Guy just doesn't listen, and then Jax dies in a freak automobile accident–and Guy can't get past the Jax's suspicions.

Were authors being murdered so carefully that they all looked like accidents (with the kind of deaths lifted from mystery novels)? Had Jax been murdered too? Guy is beginning to think so. Then he is threatened in an email–and then another author, Frances, shows up at his house with a story about almost being killed. What is going on? Will Guy and his friends be able to stop the murders and catch the murderer before more mystery writers are killed? Will Guy be next?

Sleuth Slayer is skillful new mystery by a father-and-son team. At the beginning of the story, I thought Guy was a little self-absorbed and a bit of a loser, but as the story progresses, you see his character mature and see his loyalty to his friends, which is an admirable trait. There are several good secondary characters that I enjoyed. I really liked Frances because she is intelligent, sharp-witted, and a great foil for Guy. I also liked Maddie, the LAPD detective that helps Guy and Frances with their attempts to figure out what is going on. Even though the main characters are amateur detectives, this reads a lot like a police procedural mystery with all the help that Guy and Frances get from the professionals.

The Burton author team keeps the suspense building through the story as Guy and Frances find one suspect after another and investigate. Then the story culminates with a marvelous plot twist that took me completely by surprise. I loved the ending!

I thoroughly enjoyed Sleuth Slayer and recommend it to mystery fans. I also anticipate there will be other successful titles from this author duo in the future.

—Stephanie Boyd, Armchair Interviews

P. Jax Thornton III, third-rate author of the Corpse mystery series and heir to a family fortune, spins a theory to his friend, Guy Davitt, also a third tier mystery writer. According to Jax, American mystery writers are being brutally murdered. Guy initially scoffs at this theory, but he begins to have second thoughts when Jax's car plunges off the road into a ravine and he is killed.

In collaboration with Frances Whiting, award winning author of the Sally Kerentine yachting mysteries and nearly a victim herself, Guy discovers the truth of Jax's theory. Each writer's death is taken from the pages of one of his or her own mystery novels. The pair must delve into the deaths to find the murderer before he zeroes in on them.

Sleuth Slayer is an entertaining, fun read. The plot is well developed with memorable characters. There are many twists in this fast-paced story, with the outcome coming as a complete surprise.

Recommended for a quick read for a afternoon or evening enjoyment.

Barbara Buhrer, MyShelf.com

Someone is murdering mystery writers on the West Coast. You'd expect mystery authors, steeped in arcane and unusual ways to off their enemies would solve this mighty quick. Not so; turns out crime authors panic just like ordinary citizens. “Good God, Guy, this is absolute murder!”

—Carl Brookins, author of the Michael Tanner mysteries (member of Minnesota Crime Wave)

“Diminutive, Yoda-faced P. Jax Thornton III sat on my sagging couch, nursed the tepid root beer I'd poured him, from what was maybe a halfway rinsed coffee mug with a busted handle that'd been turning into a Petri dish in my sink.” It is 2:30 am and mystery writer Guy Davitt is awakened by a visit from fellow writer Jax who has concerns about the recent deaths of two other mystery authors. A month ago, Angus MacDougall was found dead with the cause of death determined to be alcohol poisoning. Just the day prior to Jax's visit, Alexandra Case was found dead due to smoke inhalation. Jax believes that these deaths are more than just a random coincidence.

Although at the time Guy had dismissed Jax's suspicions, he soon found himself placing more value in his friend's beliefs. Shortly after their talk Jax was the victim of a fatal car crash on a twisting canyon road. Therefore, yet another mystery author was dead. After Guy pays his respects to the Thornton family, Jax's father tells him that he is welcome to clean out Jax's writing area and take whatever he wants. Guy uses this as an opportunity to see if he can find any evidence confirming Jax's suspicions that there is a mystery-writer serial-killer out there.

To see what others think about the recent chain of events, Guy posts the information that he has in a mystery writers' chat room. In the numerous responses to his post, he receives a rather unusual comment from someone he does not know with the user name of “Scythe.” “Scythe's” coded, chilling comment infers that Guy is going to be one of the next victims. Soon after, another writer, Frances Whiting, shows up on Guy's doorstep claiming that she too had almost been a murder victim as she was attacked on her yacht, but had escaped. Together they work to determine who is behind the serial slayings and to try to unravel the mystery.

As you can see in the quote at the beginning of my review, Burton and Burton are very talented at writing descriptive passages. Whether I wanted to or not, I could vividly picture what was growing inside of that coffee mug. This skillful writing combined with a strong plot will have you turning the pages in anticipation of what is coming next. There are many twists and turns throughout the book and just when you think you have it all figured out you will be proven wrong.

“Sleuth Slayer” is a fast-paced novel from start to finish with no dull moments in between. The writing is suspenseful and the characters are memorable. I think that any fan of the mystery genre will truly enjoy this book. I would love to see this novel become the beginning of a series and I look forward to reading more from the authors in the future.

—Kam Aures, Rebecca's Reads

When his friend and colleague, P. Jax Thornton III, alerts him to a recent series of murders of noted mystery authors, Guy Davitt, a mystery author himself, is hardly alarmed. The apparent circumstances surrounding the deaths are hardly suspicious; in fact, the alcohol poisoning of one -who just happened to be an alcoholic -was, well, expected. Despite Jax's spiked paranoia surrounding the murders, Davitt brushes his concerns aside with glib indifference.

That is, until Jax himself dies suddenly in a horrific car crash; then, upon closer inspection of what appears to be a tragic accident, Davitt begins to notice intriguing signs of foul play. As a result, in typical “inquisitive author” fashion, he begins to ponder the true motives behind Jax's death, as well as the other authors who were recently slain.

As he launches his own personal investigation, Davitt soon comes to the grim realization that the murders have all been lifted straight from the pages of mystery novels, info that serves as both a blessing and a curse for him as he sloshes through the unsavory worlds of privileged entitlement, business politics, and police corruption in his quest for truth and ultimate justice. Most disturbing of all, though, is Davitt's startling realization that his time to solve the case is severely limited by none other than the fact that his own name appears on the killer's list…if ever he needed his “writer's instincts” to kick in, there's no better time than the present.

Sleuth Slayer is an enjoyable read crafted by the superbly creative father-and-son writing team of Bruce & Jeffrey Burton. A thoroughly well-written tale of suspenseful intrigue, the Burtons' engaging story is both intricately crafted and masterfully executed. In addition, the sardonic wit laced throughout is a perfect counterbalance to the grimness of the subject and its often heavy emotional undertones, offsetting the overall pathos of the tale just enough.

The true appeal of Sleuth Slayer, though, lies in the masterful way that the Burtons employ the tools of their chosen genre. By including a number of false starts and redirects, they ensure that the true identity of the killer remains a secret until the very end – and even then the reader is surprised to learn that the ultimate purpose of the murders is far from what you'd expect of a typical serial killer.

Creatively inventive with tight prose and even tighter dialogue, Sleuth Slayer is a can't miss thriller-within-a-thriller. Highly recommended. (Official Apex Reviews Rating: Five Stars)

—Renee Washburn, Apex Reviews

Jeffrey B. Burton and Bruce W. Burton's Sleuth Slayer is a first class murder mystery. The authors' tale of a deadly plot against mystery writers is both eloquent and suspenseful, masterfully filled with turns and twists sure to delight its readers. The authors' exemplary use of wordplay, within the story, adds a beautiful touch to an already captivating who-done-it. I finished Sleuth Slayer in one reading because I simply could not put it down.

Jeffery B. Burton and Bruce W. Burton have penned a fantastic tale of murder and deceit, sure to create many fans in the mystery lovers circle. The surprise ending will leave you in shock. Bravo! Do not miss this book. Thoroughly enjoyable, a gem of a book! I give Sleuth Slayer 5+ stars!

—Mark Reid, NewBookReview.org



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