Heavy on the Dead (Leo Waterman #12) by G.M. Ford ~ Murder/Mystery #AudiobookReview

Author: G.M. Ford

Performed by Patrick Lawlor

Published: July 2019 by Brilliance Audio

Category: Murder, Mystery, Crime Fiction, Thriller, Audiobook, Book Review

After seven months laying low in Ocean Beach, California, Seattle PI Leo Waterman has finally stopped looking over his shoulder—specifically, for the vengeful band of Washington white supremacists who blame Leo for blindsiding their big plans for America. Where better to disappear with his bodyguard, Gabe, than this laid-back stretch of San Diego heaven? But when Leo finds a boy’s body on the beach, he comes out of hiding to investigate.

The Leo Waterman series is one of my favourites and one I’ve followed from the start. I love the way G.M. Ford writes and Patrick Lawlor’s narrations have been very enjoyable and easy to listen to throughout. 

Bringing down a white supremacist group in the previous book necessitated Leo and his sidekick Gabe, leaving their home in Seattle and disappearing for a while. They’d been in Ocean Beach, California for the last seven months and were just beginning to relax and feel safe, counting on the fact Ocean Beach had such a diverse population no-one would notice or think twice about two newcomers.

The ocean has a primal call. A voice, deep and resonant, that beckons everyone, almost on the cellular level. The rich, the poor, the homeowner, and the homeless, it called them all, and they all came, living an uneasy cheek-to-jowl existence in Ocean Beach.

Leo and Gabe have integrated into the community, Gabe taking classes and Leo volunteering in a clean up the beach group. During one of the clean ups Leo comes across a child’s body, in such a position that pointed to someone putting him there. He calls it in anonymously but forgets to take the picker for his rubbish bucket, so leading the police to his door. Both Leo and Gabe can’t help but get involved in the investigation, helping their new acquaintance Detective Carolyn Saunders, especially when they learn the boy’s death is not an isolated case and he hasn’t even been reported as missing. The official verdict doesn’t ring true—a red rag to Leo and Gabe regardless of the high risk situation.

The white supremacist fanatics targeting Leo haven’t given up trying to find him and, acting on information received from a local bank teller, have sent two men to verify Leo’s identity. One of the men is determined to avenge his brother, a member of the group who died during the siege, and kill Leo himself. 

Marshall bent again and squinted at the screen. “We need absolute confirmation.” he said finally. “And it needs to be completely under the radar. No public presence at all. We are in no position to attract further attention.” He started for the door. Stopped. Turned back around and wagged a stiff finger. “But…if that is that son of a bitch Leo Waterman, I want him dead and buried.” He started for the door again.

“Heavy on the dead.” he said.

G.M. Ford strikes the perfect balance between the darker side of humanity and humour without compromising on the seriousness of the subject and social issues or the suspenseful plot. The issue of child trafficking is handled sensitively without any gratuitousness. I appreciate that Leo and Gabe show the passing of time and the effects of injuries sustained, reenforcing their realism and engaging personalities. 

Heavy on the Dead is another well crafted and action driven plot, with great characterisations and dialogue. I love that despite the move, this plot still involves the homeless, who have always provided a distinct backdrop throughout the stories. 

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US | Hive

About the Author

Retired astronaut and former Grand Dragon of the B’nai B’rith, G.M. Ford broke onto the mystery scene with Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?, a gin soaked tome featuring Seattle PI Leo Waterman, whose primary claim to fame was the group of street people with whom he occasionally worked. The six book Leo Waterman series was nominated for the Shamus, the Anthony, the Lefty and a couple of other awards probably best forgotten. In 2001, Mr. Ford began a new series, featuring disgraced reporter Frank Corso and his Goth assistant Meg Dougherty. Six books later, Mr. Ford, as is apparently his ilk, decided to do “something else” and penned his first stand-alone thriller, Nameless Night.

The most recent chapter in Mr. Ford’s writing life began in 2011, when, in a fit of pique, and after a twelve year hiatus, he decided to write a new Leo Waterman novel, Thicker Than Water. Thomas & Mercer (Amazon) promptly bought it, and signed him up to write two more. The rest, as they say, is history.

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