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An Enjoyable, Well-Written Yarn

by Bill Stephens, Gotta Write Network

 

Tommy and Tuppence. Nick and Nora Charles. Now Chester Campbell's husband-and-wife detective team Greg and Jill McKenzie seem poised to take their place alongside the gumshoe spouses of old. There are, of course, considerable differences. Instead of London or New York, the Mckenzies tackle crime in Nashville, Tennessee. They are also considerably older than the "bright young things" that occupy center stage in the Christie and Hammet novels.

Greg McKenzie is of an age when scanning a restaurant menu for senior's discounts may come more natural than slipping a 9mm automatic into his belt, but hes just as ready for action as any other fictional shamus. A former investigator with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations followed by a stint in the Nashville DAs office he brings experience and professional credentials to the fledgling McKenzie Detective Agency. Wife Jill contributes an adventurous spirit, the ability to ferry them from place to place in her Cessna 172, and some remarkable feats of marksmanship.

Unlike most other fictional private detectives, the McKenzies are ardent churchgoers. Still, this doesnt mean that Deadly Illusions belongs on the shelf among the Christian novels. The religious content is pretty much limited to the heads of the McKenzie Detective Agency taking their places in a pew come Sunday morning and recruiting fellow parishioners as occasional operatives.

An enjoyable, well-written yarn, a couple of engaging characters and an author who apparently knows the Nashville locale and the art of criminal investigation well, Deadly Illusions has a lot to offer fans of mysteries and soft-boiled private eye yarns. This is Campbell's third book featuring the private eye duo, and it would be extremely disappointing if it were to be the last. A good, well-paced read with plenty of twists and turns to hold the reader's interest.

 

 

A Look into a Funhouse Mirror

by Nancy Mehl, MyShelf.com

 

All of (the) situations flow together to create an engrossing novel that keeps you hopping from one situation to another. Deadly Illusions is a look into a funhouse mirror. The images shift and alter. Just when you think you have it figured out, the picture changes again. The McKenzies are engaging characters, the plot is fast-paced, and the writing is top-notch. Chester Campbell has a winner with this series. I recommend this installment, and I look forward to the next offering.

 

 

'Illusions' ratchets  up suspense in Nashville setting

by Stephen Doster, The Tennessean, Nashville, TN

 

Unlike many mysteries where the clue that solves the crime is triggered by some seemingly insignificant event (you know the scene in which the detective slaps his forehead and cries, "What a fool I've been not to see it before!"), Greg McKenzie methodically puts the pieces together using good old-fashioned gumshoe investigative work.

But the real star of this book is Jill McKenzie, who emerges as a detective in her own right, developing the sense to follow her instincts and the guts to act on them. It is she who charms information out of people when Greg's matter-of-fact approach fails. It is she who suspects something is amiss with someone not yet on Greg's suspect list, which ultimately solves the case...

Deadly Illusions grabs you by the throat on the first page and refuses to let go until the last page falls from your sweat-drenched hand. Campbell's writing style might best be described as breakneck, with plots that start at a trot and quickly accelerate into a dead heat.

 

 

Senior sleuths don't act their age

by Jo-Ann Greene, Sunday News, Lancaster, PA

 

Greg McKenzie retired from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, then from the Nashville, Tenn., District Attorney's Office.

Trouble is McKenzie is not really the retiring type. So he has put his snooping skills to use as a private eye in partnership with his wife of nearly 40 years, Jill.

That's right. Instead of bagging groceries at a local supermarket and attending AARP luncheons, these fictional senior citizens play with guns and pilot their private plane to check out leads.

...the McKenzies are having lunch at the Opryworld Hotel with a client who suspects employees are skimming cash from his restaurants. As they leave, they learn the Federal Reserve Board chairman has just been assassinated in the hotel lobby.

Police and the FBI are all over the case, but the McKenzies stumble onto related information when delving into the background of another client's menacing husband. The nervous wife goes missing, and the McKenzies fear for her life as they turn up evidence the husband is not who he said he is.

After threats, break-ins and related murders, there's a showdown that provides a solution.

It's fast and easy reading. Though the connections are complicated, the resolution is not too far-fetched.

Greg, a cavalier gent with a knack for alienating police investigators, narrates the tale. His admiring remarks about the looks, skills and personality of the "babe" he married will endear him to female readers.

 

 

Another Winner

by Shelley Glodowski, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

 

Chester D. Campbell has his own unique style of writing that is both dashing and touching. His obvious affection for his wife shines through just as he outlines a nefarious plot based on his own military experience. Greg McKenzie is a senior investigator who relies on his experience to compensate for the brawn he might have engaged in the past. His wife, Jill, is an accomplished pilot, cook, and is the perfect partner for her husband. Campbell juxtaposes her correction of Greg's "blue language" and her obvious spirituality with her determination when the going gets rough and she has to use some of the private investigator skills that most people would shrink from. All in all, DEADLY ILLUSIONS is another winner in the Chester D. Campbell literary cabinet. Campbell obviously has many stories to share, and he continues to write fabulous mysteries.

 

"Becoming one of my favorite mystery series"

by Dawn Dowdle, The Best Reviews

 

The Greg McKenzie series is fast becoming one of my all-time favorite series. Mr. Campbell has a great way of telling a story while weaving the various cases that Greg and Jill are working on. I find his characters to be very believable. I like that they don't just center on one case. That's not how it is in real life.

I like the Nashville setting. And the fact that Jill is a pilot and owns a Cessna allows them to travel to gain additional information and not lose much time.

The only complaint I'd have is that they turn off their cell phone too much, especially during important cases. But, since they are older, this is still believable.

I can't wait to read the next Greg McKenzie mystery. I highly recommend this book and the whole series.

 

 

A Fast Paced Novel

 by Dave Biemann, Crime Spree Magazine

 

If you're interested in seeing how a real private detective works try Chester Campbell's Deadly Illusions.

Mr. Campbell has a background in Air Force Intelligence, reporting and education.  He writes a fast paced novel in Deadly Illusions.  It stars his two private investigators Greg and Jill McKenzie.

Greg, who has dealt with the Nashville Metro Police before, provides them with some information that might help in solving the (Federal Reserve Board Chairman's) assassination.  Back at the office Jill persuades Greg to take on the case of Molly Saint; a woman very much afraid of a husband she doesn't really know. Her disappearance and the murky past of her husband eventually link back to the Chairman's murder.

It's how Mr. Campbell pulls these two seemingly divergent cases together that make this tale the pleasant past time it is.

 

 

A Fabulously Quick Read, a Page-Turner

by Brian Kaufman, Roundtable Reviews

 

DEADLY ILLUSIONS is the third Greg McKenzie mystery by Chester D. Campbell, and it may well be the best. Campbells prose is very much like his protagonist, clean and concise with rough edges that are honest enough to be charming.

The characters have grown a little with each book in the series. Greg McKenzie still struggles to tame his quick mouth, but hes got more friends than enemies. Jill has become a more active partner in a way that is completely believable (always the kind of person one could "talk to," shes an asset during questioning).

It is a pleasure to find an older fictional couple portrayed as dynamic and loving, thirty-five years into their marriage, a rare notion that Campbell helps sell with his matter-of-fact prose and a clever plot.

DEADLY ILLUSIONS is a fabulously quick read, a page-turner that will not disappoint.

 

 

One Author a Reader Can Count On

by Kevin Tipple, Blue Iris Journal, Blether.com

 

Picking up a short period after the very enjoyable Designed To Kill, this book continues the author's track record of strong writing, realistic characters and complex mysteries that makes this series so good. Greg and Jill are a very realistic pairing, especially to those readers that have been married quite a few years. The mysteries are always complex and twisting, and this one is no exception.

While this novel could be read as a stand alone, due to the frequent allusions and explanations of the earlier books in the series, it would be best to read them in order. Therefore, start with Secret Of The Scroll which introduces the McKenzies and others and then follow it with Designed to Kill, which will lead you right up to this novel. Regardless of what you do, enjoy these, as this is one author a reader can count on.

A Highly Recommended Read

by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

 

This time round Greg and Jill are called to investigate into the background of a man- and the person who wants the investigation done is none other than his wife, Molly Saint. Marriage infidelities, suspicious wife- you might think- but when Molly Saint herself disappears, the investigation takes a new turn, opening a whole new can of worms. What follows is tension filled, subtle action fare culminating in an end- well, what can I say- truly Campbellish.

A worthy read and a worthier buy, Deadly Illusions is a recommended oops, a highly recommended read.

 

Solid, Realistic Characters

Rita Ratacheck, Reviewing the Evidence

 

I have not read either of the previous books in the series...but DEADLY ILLUSIONS works as a standalone book and I never felt out of sync. Even though there are references to past cases, the author has done a commendable job in tying everything together.

I like the two main characters but did not particularly warm to any of the others. The McKenzies are solid and realistic. Jill is my favorite of the two. Formerly, she conducted a charter service and piloted people. She is bright and humorous and yet, she manages to show her vulnerable side. I will read the next installment in this series.

 

Complex Plot Provides Good Pace

by Bob Spear, Heartland Reviews

 

The author does a good job of keeping all his plot balls in the air without dropping them. The plot's complexity provides a good pace that pulls the reader through the story. His own background in the OSI business provides him with many excellent investigation tools. We rated this book four hearts.

 

 

A Fine Mystery

by Lillian Porter, Amazon.com

 

A woman named Molly comes to the office of Greg and Jill McKenzie fearing for her safety and asks them to do a background check on her husband. When Molly disappears, Greg and Jill are drawn into a web of illusions where nothing appears to be what it seems at first.

Chester Campbell has written a fine mystery with many twists that keep you turning the pages and wanting to see what happens next. Jill and Greg complement each other, each bringing their own unique gifts for detecting and working well together as a husband and wife team. The plot is fast moving with convincing characters. Campbell's eye for detail enhances the story and gives the reader a sense of being there.

This is the third book in the series and the first book I have read. I will be looking for the first two. I highly recommend this book.

 

A Unique Sleuthing Couple

by Julia Spencer-Fleming, Agatha and Anthony Award winning author of In the Bleak Midwinter

 

This entertaining series just keeps getting better. Campbells latest features his trademark crisp writing and clever plotting. The McKenzies are a unique sleuthing couple, as natural as biscuits and gravy. Dont miss this one!

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