Nick of Time, by Tim Downs (Thomas Nelson, 2011)
“The Bug Man is getting married on Saturday … if his fiancée can find him.”
Nick Polchak is a forensic entomologist: he studies bugs, specifically the ones attracted to corpses. One thing these bugs do is help him pinpoint the time of death.
His fiancée, Alena, trains rescue dogs for work sniffing out drugs or finding cadavers. They’re her family. She lives in a locked compound outside of town, and she doesn’t encourage visitors.
For all his eccentricities, Nick shares one thing with most engaged men: the whole wedding preparation thing bores and scares him. Maybe that’s why he insists on leaving town for a cold-case meeting with his colleagues.
It’s the week before the wedding, but he can back the next day. Except one of his friends dies, he clashes with the responding police officer, and things progress from there. Suddenly Nick is following clues that take him farther from home—and his wedding date is getting closer.
When he doesn’t phone her as promised, Alena sets off after him with three of her best dogs. She’s a formidable tracker and good at getting the information she needs, but Nick is on the move and she’s always one step behind.
Page one of the novel hooked me, and page four had me laughing aloud. Yes, Nick works with gross bugs with fancy Latin names, but the story doesn’t have a significant ick factor. (If you hate bugs, you might disagree…) It does have a lot of funny bits, usually to do with Nick’s words and actions.
Nick and Alena are blunt-spoken, borderline socially-dysfunctional characters. I loved reading about them—I want to go back and start the series at the beginning—but I sure wouldn’t want to live with either of them. They’re a good match.
Nick of Time picks up where Tim Downs’ previous Bug Man novel, Ends of the Earth, left off. I was able to pick it up cold and enjoy. If you want to start with book one in the series, look for Shoofly Pie. At Tim Downs’ website, you can read the first three chapters of any of his books.