Murdock Tackles Taos, an all-new Matt Murdock Mystery by Robert J. Ray

murdock_tackles_taosMurdock Tackles Taos presents a new episode in the Matt Murdock Mystery series by Robert J. Ray ($16.95, 350 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-925-1). The adventures of this tough guy detective with a soft heart began with Bloody Murdock and continued through four other novels, all available through Camel Press.

In most of the earlier books, Murdock operates from Newport Beach, CA, although in Murdock Cracks Ice, he goes to Seattle, WA. This novel brings the PI to New Mexico, where he teams up with a sexy writer whose sleuthing instincts are equal to his own.

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“Robert Ray is a gifted writer and the Matt Murdock series displays all his many talents. The prose is crisp, the characters vivid and the plot captivating. Read him now! Matt Murdock is part Jack Reacher, part Dave Robicheux. Fans of Lee Child and James Lee Burke will love Murdock Tackles Taos. A brilliant murder mystery with a splash of romance. The Matt Murdock series is one of my guilty pleasures!”

—Robert Dugoni, New York Times bestselling author

“I absolutely loved this book. To me it had a different feel to it than some others of the same genre. It was faster paced than most, and told three different perspectives on the story. Helene’s, Murdock’s, and a third whose identity you will have to find out for yourself. I give this a GIGANTIC 5 out of 5. Recommended for people who love the thrill of the chase, and the feeling of catching the bad guy in the act.” Read more …
—I Read a Book Once Blog

“I must admit to thoroughly enjoying this mystery thriller featuring Matt Murdock  who was hired to find and return the daughter of a friend who went missing from an art colony in Taos, New Mexico.   What a mesmerizing read this turned out to be! Strong characters, thrilling adventure, psychological deviancy, (is that a word?), strong, well thought out plot and storyline … an absolutely intriguing read!”  Read more …

–Beth Art from the Heart Blog

“Action and tension are high in a cleverly weaved ‘whodunit’ mystery. You actually know who did it very early on, but you read on for two reasons; one, the how do they get caught, and two, the why. I guarantee the why will knock your socks off.”  Read more …

–Joe Hempel, Top of the Heap Reviews

5 Stars: “A plot that is filled with action, mystery and suspense. This is the first book I have read in the ‘A Matt Murdock Mystery Series’ andwas totally engrossed throughout the whole book. Between the author’s strong, believable, and well developed characters, and the many twists and turns within the story line, I was kept at the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next. Highly recommended for all crime, murder mystery fans.”  Read more ….

–Susan Peck, My Cozie Corner

“LOVE this book! It is a roller coaster of a ride from the beginning chapter, with lots of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. Ladies, you may find yourself charmed by Murdock, just like Helene in the book.”  Read more …

—Bless Their Hearts Mom Blog

“Murdock makes me smile. He’s not a suave, sophisticated James Bond. He’s not a disheveled, bumbling Colombo either. He’s real. He’s kind. He’s somebody to share a good adventure with. Helene Steinbeck, retired town marshal turned successful author, is Murdock’s new sidekick and lover. She makes me just a tiny bit jealous. Robert Ray’s novel tossed me back and forth between the feel of a summer read and a study in human nature—either way Murdock Tackles Taos is a read you won’t want to miss.”

—Arleen Williams, author of The Thirty-Ninth Victim

“In Murdock Tackles Taos, Robert Ray takes risks that every good novelist has to take in order to push the limits of the genre without leaving his readers behind. As with all of Ray’s books, this one is so well written it’s a pleasure just to say the words. When Ray brings Helene Steinbeck, his second sleuth, on stage he drags Murdock into the 21st Century with a bang …. In this book, the rich eat the poor. Steinbeck and Murdock set things right.”

—Jack Remick, author of Blood, Gabriela and the Widow and The California Quartet series

“Robert J. Ray has succeeded in doing what Michael McGarrity excels at: developing characters that you want to take home. Murdock Tackles Taos is a can’t-put-it-down kind of book. Ray seduces the reader from the first paragraph, pulls them in with enticing promises, and doesn’t break up with them until the last page. Murdock is the perfect character. He keeps you at the edge of your seat waiting to surprise you with his next move.”

—Marie Romero Cash, artist and author of the Jemimah Hodge Mystery series

“Fast paced, with many twists and turns, told in three alternating points of view, mostly Helen’s and Murdock’s, and a few from the villain’s making it extra interesting. All characters are developed and well-rounded. The society of Taos the author created is beautifully described—picture perfect—including an eccentric group of people taking an obscure place in it all…. An action-packed, fast-paced read with a surprise ending that will stay with you for a while. Definitely worthwhile to take on holiday!”  Read more ….

—Fenny, Hotchpotch Blog

“I was immediately engrossed in the storyline and the pace of the book I was constantly trying to guess what would happen next and the who done it. I highly recommend reading and look forward to reading more on Matt Murdock.”  Read more ….

—Heather, Saving for 6 Blog

“Game, set, match. Murdock Tackles Taos puts readers through their paces, serving up breakneck action, intrigue and murder in this winner-takes-all mystery thriller set in serene Taos, N.M. Can’t wait for Murdock’s next case!”

—L.M. Archer, freelance author and wine blogger

In Murdock Tackles Taos, Murdock makes us yearn for hexagonal sights to sharpen our aim. He is aging well, but feeling some ‘techodistance’ between himself and his younger rival for the heroine’s love. Yet Murdock prevails. His love, Helene Steinbeck, silently paces in their bedroom, and suddenly dust from gunshot riddled sheet rock drifts down into the room. Then the pair are on the move again to solve the mystery of more than one missing person. Murdock feels the tentacles of a monster in Taos, ‘reaching out, grabbing up innocent people and squeezing them to the maw of the octopus.’ Bob Ray’s character descriptions and scene settings are vivid. This book seems like a case study for The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery. There is lively writing throughout. Highly recommended to all Murdock Mystery fans!”

—Becky Warden, co-author, along with Kerri Hakoda, of The Currency Mysteries

“Whenever Matt Murdock is in town, trouble can’t be far off. This time it’s Taos, New Mexico, with an international cast of bad guys and more than a few beauties. The prose is tough, the characters quirky, and a depiction of the Taos landscape so vivid you can taste the red clay and the enchiladas. Funny, imaginative, and with a code of honor reminiscent of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee, Matt Murdock gets his man.”

—Max Detrano, author of “Jasper Rincon’s Loft” and “A Hunk of Meat” published by 10,000 Tons of Black Ink–both nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

“This novel dishes up a whole lot of fun—and just in time for summer. With shades of Raymond Chandler’s tough-minded Marlowe, Murdock is a detective you can root for—slightly above the law, but only in the way we like to think that we are, too. Ray’s plot zips along, sweeping us past murder, seduction, human trafficking, and class issues. And that’s just in the opening pages. But even with the swift plot, the characters were what I flipped pages for: the quick-witted Murdock, his gutsy female sidekick, and a villain worthy of Ian Fleming. And the final line will stick with you for a long time.”

—M.C. Easton

“This eagerly-anticipated installment in Bob Ray’s Murdock P.I. series sizzles with fast-paced action and heats up the high desert nights with steamy chemistry between Murdock and his partner in crime-solving, the multi-talented novelist/ex-cop Helene Steinbeck. The suspicious disappearance of an Army buddy’s daughter from an artist’s colony brings Murdock to the Southwest, where he learns that here, bow hunting is not confined to wild game. In fact, the game gets wilder as Murdock uncovers more about the golden gods and goddesses that rule the country club tennis courts. The beautiful people are far from unblemished, and they have Murdock and Steinbeck in their sights. Those who loved the earlier Murdock books (Bloody Murdock, Dial M for Murdock, Murdock for Hire, Murdock Cracks Ice) will not be disappointed. Murdock may have aged a bit, but he’s still on his game. Action-packed and brimming with memorable characters, Murdock Tackles Taos is perfect summer fare, and required reading for noir fans.”

—Kerri Hakoda, co-author with Becky Warden, The Currency Mysteries

Weary but wise private-eye Matt Murdock is back, and he has met his match—a vital and attractive writer and cop’s daughter, Helene Steinbeck. Helene is hiking in the hills of Taos when she happens upon the corpse of a young woman downed by an arrow. Murdock appears on the horizon just in time to prevent a team of archers from using Helene as target practice. Murdock has been scouring Angel Mountain and vicinity for evidence that will help him discover the whereabouts of Barbi Bellini, the missing daughter of a friend.

Now that Helene has stumbled onto the scene, she has no choice but to join Murdock in his search for answers. Drawn to the detective’s integrity and quiet strength, she becomes both his apprentice and his lover. Their quest leads them to a cult of locals whose charismatic leader believes the “weak” are fair game. But this unholy brotherhood is just the poisonous tip of the arrow. The hunters have forged deadly alliances with the rich and powerful of Taos. Who can Helene and Murdock trust? Will they be able to outthink—and outrun—their many adversaries?

ROBERT J. RAY is the author of nine novels: Cage of Mirrors, The Heart of the Game, Bloody Murdock, Murdock for Hire, Dial “M” for Murdock, Merry Christmas, Murdock, Murdock Cracks Ice, and now Murdock Tackles Taos. Ray is also the author of a popular non-fiction series on writing, The Weekend Novelist, and he shares writing techniques on writing at A native of Texas, Ray holds a PhD from the University of Texas, Austin. Tuesdays and Fridays, he writes at Louisa’s Bakery and Café in Seattle. For more information, click here.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Helene felt the edge of fear. Maybe not fear, maybe curiosity. The kids were not in the room by chance. They had been sent by someone with a game plan and the sides were uneven. Eight sassy high school kids against one Helene Steinbeck. She was out-numbered, but why was she worried? Over forty people in the workshop. Plenty of adults. She was safe here.

Skye’s reading was a skimpy story about killing his number one rival on the high school soccer team. The killing was preceded by a manhunt, where Skye and his jock-friends chased the victim—identified as Manny Jones the Retard, a fat kid wearing a white polo shirt that glowed in the dark—up a steep hill, sharp rocks underfoot, and then through a wasteland wilderness of trees with witches arms for branches. As Skye finished reading and sat down, Helene looked at her group of teenagers. They had read her book and now they were playing with her. Toying with her, according to some kind of plan. There was an hour left. An hour to kill, or an hour to do her job. An hour before she could escape. Helene changed her workshop strategy—more writing, less reading.

For a solid fifty-five minutes, she had them write using prompts called Firsts and Lasts. “My first day at school,” for three minutes. “My last day at school,” for four minutes. “At my first birthday party,” write for five minutes. No reading, no chance to rattle Helene, just writing, switching back and forth—the beginning, the end, the beginning, and when the timer buzzed, Helene thanked them for coming.

Then the bookstore person brought in books for signing and a line of buyers formed. The senior citizens came first. They paid with credit cards from co-ops and local banks.

“To my sister in Des Moines.”

“To my grandchild in Topeka.”

The last senior walked away. Helene texted Murdock. “HLP.”

The teenagers clustered around the table. Grinning, smug with their sex appeal, confident in their youth, their collective force. The first teen customer was Tommy—handsome and cocky, flashing a black card from Amex that made the bookseller gawk. Tommy signed the ticket with flair.

When Tommy presented his book for Helene’s signature, he said, “What a great workshop, Miss Steinbeck. Oh, yeah, right, make it to my big brother, Gerry Junior—use his initials, ‘To G.J., from Helene, with love’—just kidding, but listen, Miss Steinbeck, I really want to be a writer, I mean, it’s like a lust, a craving, but my folks say no way to the artist’s life, so I was wondering, could we buy you a coke or something, like now? Pick your brain? Get your advice?”

Helene said thank you for the invitation but she was tired and maybe some other time. And the next teenage book buyer said the same thing. A yen for writing, parents doing the old roadblock thing, could we buy you a coke or something, pick your brain, maybe?

It was a rehearsed operation with ritual overtones. Automaton teens, mocking her, setting her up, for what she did not know. Helene said “No thank you.” She was tired. She was meeting someone. The invitations did not stop. She signed the last book and looked around for the bookstore person. Gone. She turned to pick up her rucksack. Skye was holding it out of easy reach. She reached for her cellphone. Moving fast, Tommy snatched the phone. His eyes looked nasty. The circle of teenagers tightened around her. Her Glock was back in the motel room. Where was Murdock?

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