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‘Tahoe Silence’ rings thriller bells

Sam Bauman

“Tahoe Silence,” by Todd Borg (Thriller Press, 352 pages, $16.95, publication date Aug. 1)

Local author Todd Borg comes in with the fifth book in his Lake Tahoe series about private eye Owen McKenna and his great Dane dog Spot, plus his love interest Street. There’s little doubt that with each volume he has sharpened his plotting and writing skills until this one is a real page-turner, rich in local scenery we all know well and ever richer in knowledge about autism, a growing illness in America. If nothing else, Borg does a real service is writing about autism so clearly. The research he has done on the subject is impressive, and anyone reading this book is going to come away with not only respect for Borg’s writing, but also for what he imparts about the disease.

Then the book. SalAnne “Silence” Rameriez is autistic. Hasn’t spoken a work in her 17 years. She is, however, a self-taught artist of surprising skill. She often “spins,” standing on one foot and pushing herself in rotation with the other. She is doing that in front of her house on the Pioneer Trail in South Lake Tahoe at the same time a bikers’ convention is in town, and she disappears, along with her older brother Charlie. Bikers are blamed.

McKenna is waken in the morning early by a pounding on his cabin door. A woman is there, crying out that her children are gone. Marlette Remmick is her name and she is Silence’s and Charlie’s mother. McKenna calms her down, finds out what has happened and agrees to take on the case as a PI.

This is the same McKenna as in earlier books but he seems smarter, more self-assured and sympathetic than in the past. His companion Street, a forensic biologist, is still a bit of cardboard figure, but she fills the bill. And Spot, the Great Dance, is around all the time, gifted with more than normal canine intelligence.

The complexities begin early. Street is threatened with a broken bottle, two bikers, one a giant, attack McKenna, but former LA cop that he is, he handles them easily.

There are some false alarms, with McKenna getting a police chief in trouble after he triggers a raid on an innocent house and two chefs. A red herring comes out in the person of a venture capitalist, who had dealings with the biological professor father of Silence.

And speaking of Silence, Borg creates an indelible portrait of the girl, with insights into her illness that do more than a medical report could. He speaks of her as a penned-in creature, penned but very alive and with an imaginative and ingenious mind. In doing so he can make readers more aware of the problems of autism. He doesn’t paint a totally rosy picture, but he holds out hope for Silence.

Borg has won several prizes for his Tahoe series, all richly deserved. This one should only add to his success. Someday maybe a major publisher will discover that Borg is a good bet and take over the publishing work. “Silence” is a fine, suspenseful read, summer or winter.

If you’d like to meet Borg, he’ll be speaking and signing books at the Boarders at Carson City Aug. 4 from 2 to 5 p.m. Sorry, Spot is not expected.

• Contact Sam Bauman at 881-1236 or Sbauman@nevadaappeal.com