The Red Herring - Book Review

The Red Herring

Author: R. G. Link
Genre: Fiction - Mystery - General
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date Published: March 19, 2020
ISBN-10: 1684334756
ISBN-13: 9781684334759

GoodReads Rating:

Book Review of :  The Red Herring


The Red Herring by R. G. Link is a mystery/crime novel that truly reflects the theme the title infers. The novel’s protagonist is a veteran named William Miller, who is a young underworked private investigator with a hidden but compelling past. He wonders why he seems doomed to failure. Is it because of his profession, his cynicism, and pessimistic nature or his past? Will is a haunted soul but also a man with an attitude, a mouth, and a heart.

Will’s character is fleshed out with flashbacks like “out-of-body” experiences, memories that surface in a semi-conscious state, and in dialog with a shrink.  He suffers from memories that are vicious, preying on him like “a cat tormenting a mouse, pouncing unexpectedly, smacking him senseless.” Still, through it all, he adamantly denies that he has PTSD. R. G. Link uses short, concise, rapid-fire dialog and hip, often vulgar language to help set the realism of the scenes within the lightning action.

This character-driven novel throws Will into contact with the distraught parents of Natalie, a missing teenager. Natalie’s character and history, as presented by her parents and best friend, is of a good student and a quiet, well-behaved girl. However, lately, she had gotten in trouble with drugs.  The parents had responsibly responded by sending her to rehab, but now the girl had disappeared, so they hired Will to find her. Through his investigation into her disappearance, Will discovers a gang banger drug dealer.  As he probes into the teenaged drug culture, he concludes the dealer is involved in her disappearance.

Finding Natalie becomes a race against time. Will wants to find her before she might overdose or harmed by the drug dealer.  Will knows he'd feel devastated if he fails to find her in time to return her safely home to her parents. Desperation sets in as his investigative tactics appear to falter. Has he missed something? If he fails, he knows that it will haunt his mind night and day.

Will has an epiphany.  Somehow, he feels that he and Natalie were connected. He realizes that they both were victims. Family secrets, different but still similar, have haunted their lives. He had lived through it; will she? To assuage his guilt and anger, he’s compelled to avenge those responsible for her disappearance and free himself from his own ghost.

Laura, Natalie’s mother, had awakened something in Will’s heart.  He feels her pain at her daughter’s disappearance and is determined to help her; however, he can. Will concocts a series of events that will provide the appropriate consequences for the party behind Natalie’s plight.  The surprise climax and conclusion to the story will leave the reader baffled but satisfied.

The author has Will discover the term “sciamachy,”  which is defined as an act or instance of fighting a shadow or an imaginary enemy. This definition seems to adequately define Will’s life and cycles back to the red herrings theme.    This case thrusts PI Miller into the slimy world of drugs, and he must face down an insidious criminal element and come to terms with his own ghosts to survive.  If you liked Martin Scorsese’s movie Taxi Driver, you’d like Link’s novel The Red Herring.  Whatever your tastes in CriFi, you’ll find R. G. Link's novel a brilliant read.

Reviewed by: Carole W

About R. G. Link


R. G. Link lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in a house overlooking the river. His favourite past-times are walking his crusty dog, Bukowski, along the Meewasin Trail and playing with his beloved niece and nephew on the weekends. This is his first novel.

Visit for more information on R. G. Link


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