Friday, February 17, 2006


Tracking Backward, Alice Zogg, Aventine Press, 2005, 234 pp

I first met Alice Zogg when I was writing a column about books for my very small, very local paper. She emailed me to acknowledge me for being a reader and also mentioned that she wrote mysteries. She was kind enough to get me a copy of her second book, Turn the Joker Around, which I reviewed in the column. We had met for coffee and a bit of an interview before I did the review and I learned much about her. (Authors seem to like to talk about themselves and about just about anything. Perhaps it is all those lonely hours spent writing.)

Alice was born in Switzerland and emigrated to the United States as a young woman. It was a dream come true to be in America and one for which she had to fight, as her parents did not want to let her go. Eventually she married and moved with her husband to California. She is now retired and took up writing mysteries when she couldn't find any current ones that she enjoyed reading. She has read all of Agatha Christie's books but I think she has her own style.

Tracking Backward is her third book. She self-publishes, not wishing to join the fray of new authors looking for publishers but just wishing to write for the joy of it. Her books are available on and Barnes & Noble's website. I liked Tracking Backward better than the earlier book, though I also liked Turn the Joker Around. This one is more exciting, the writing is better and the dialogue is crisper. Zogg's PI is a woman, R A Huber, who is also retired and has her own agency. A 13 year old boy hires her because he feels that his father was murdered, not the victim of a plane-crash accident. The trouble is, it is now four years later and R A must "track back" to uncover what happened. This involves a trip to Mexico and Zogg does some very creditable travel writing in that section. The final scene when the mystery is solved is full of suspense and tension.

Having recently read Birds of a Feather, by Jacqueline Winspear, which won several awards, I had a comparison and felt that Alice Zogg's book stood up well in the competition, even though Alice has no desire to compete.

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