Ayres, E.C.

Tony Lowell Mysteries

Hour of the Manatee Hour of the Manatee (1994)
From Publishers Weekly
A weary and reclusive news photographer turned PI must delve into a quarter-century-old death for answers to a recent murder in this atmospheric mystery set on Florida's Gulf Coast. A dotty old woman is shot to death in a motel just as she is asking Tony Lowell to investigate the 1966 drowning of playboy heir Henry Hartley III. All he knows is that she was institutionalized after witnessing the death, which was ruled accidental. A visit from two FBI agents and hints of political scandal goad Lowell to stay on the case, which has been assigned to conservative detective sergeant Lena Bedrosian of the Manatee City Police Department. Lowell returns to the Hartley home in Palm Coast Harbor, an enclave of the wealthy where Lowell himself grew up as son of the local police chief. His probing leads to another murder, and he and Bedrosian must flee or become the next victims. Ayres's protagonist, a burnt-out survivor of the '60s and '70s, of Vietnam and Watergate, is a properly alienated PI. His foil (but not his romantic interest), the defensive and determined Bedrosian, may be a little overdone, but nevertheless the two work together to a satisfying conclusion to this tale, which won the 1992 St. Martin's/Private Eye Writers of America Best First PI Novel contest. Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Eye of the Gator: A Tony Lowell Mystery Eye of the Gator (1995)
From Library Journal
Tampa Bay-area private investigator Tony Lowell is an underemployed Vietnam vet and inveterate sailor. He assists police detective Lena Bedrosian (Hour of the Manatee, St. Martin's, 1994) in solving the murder of a young African American employee of the state's environmental protection agency. Tony's quest for information takes him to the inland hamlets of Orange Blossoms and Manatee. While there, he questions the close-mouthed employees of a phosphate plant about a suspicious sinkhole and dodges the abusive boyfriend of a beautiful witness. Ayres exhibits mastery of the Florida setting, a firm handle on characterizations, and a good sense of dramatic timing. For all collections.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Night of the Panther: A Tony Lowell Mystery Night of the Panther (1997)
From Booklist
Sometime private eye Tony Lowell is ready to take his finally refurbished wooden schooner on its maiden voyage. Then his friend Lena Bedrosian calls. Lena's cousin, conservation officer Marge Pappas, has just been found dead, her bullet-riddled body floating in Corkscrew Swamp. Tony agrees to investigate, and soon he's managed to stir up a hornet's nest of poachers, local militia, corrupt sheriff's deputies, powerful businessmen, and even a state senator. The steamy, alligator-ridden Florida swamp is the perfect setting for Ayres' menacing, suspense-filled mystery. The characters--mostly corrupt, tobacco-chewing good ol' boys driving pickup trucks with rifle racks--are almost too perfectly stereotypical, but Ayres knows how to make them leap off the page. There's also no denying that his style and tone are as close to that of the beloved John D. MacDonald as anyone writing today. A fine mystery. Emily Melton

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