Adventures in storytelling by Bob Rector

BIG SICK HEART by Mike Markel

Bad decisions have finally caught up with police detective Karen Seagate. Her drinking has destroyed her marriage and hurt her job performance, and the chief is looking for any excuse to fire her. Still, she and her new partner, a young Mormon guy who seems to have arrived from another century or another planet, intend to track down whoever killed Arlen Hagerty, the corrupt leader of Soul Savers. Clawing his way to the top, Hagerty created plenty of enemies, including his wife, his mistress, his debate partner, the organization’s founder, and the politician he was blackmailing. When Seagate causes a car crash that sends a young girl to Intensive Care, the chief thinks he finally has his opportunity. But even the chief can’t believe what Seagate does when she finally catches the killer.

Click on image for more info

Click on image for more info


Mike Markel’s Big Sick Heart is the first in his series featuring detectives Karen Seagate and Ryan Miner. It is one of the best written and compelling detective novels I’ve had the pleasure to read.

Like most detective yarns, this one centers around a mysterious murder. Seagate and Miner are assigned to solve it. But that’s just the framework within which the real story unfolds, Senior Detective Seagate’s struggles with the inner demons ripping her apart.

This is unquestionably the best character reveal I’ve come across in some time. Markel does not throw Seagate at us all at once. We get to watch her crumble bit by bit like a week old oatmeal cookie. It is not a pretty sight. But instead of disliking Seagate, we root for her to get her life together. Even after she does something that most would deem unforgivable.

The character of her partner, Ryan Miner, is equally well developed. He is young and idealistic but has inner strength that Seagate comes to rely on as the murder they are investigating turns darker and darker.

There is a scene about midway through the story when Seagate has a complete meltdown, aiming her fury at Miner. It is so well written, the dialogue so raw and acidic, that I wanted to yell at her, “Stop! Stop!” Not often that words on a piece of paper evoke that kind of response from me.

Mike Markel is a master storyteller. If you’ve been waiting for a book that’s a punch in the gut, this is it. Can’t recommend too highly.



MIKE MARKEL teaches writing at Boise State University and is the author of many articles and eight books about writing and literature.

He also writes the Detectives Seagate and Miner Mystery series, which is set in the fictional small city of Rawlings, Montana, home of Central Montana State University. That university is somewhat like Boise State University, but in Rawlings the weather is colder, the football team less successful, and the murder rate much, much higher.

Mike lives with his wife in Boise.

16 thoughts on “BIG SICK HEART by Mike Markel

  1. Great interview Bob Rector with Mike Markel. I love Detective Seagate. She is a marvel. So human and so much a flawed woman. She is just right for a heroine.

    Best to both of you for all of 2015 from…
    No Perfect Secret

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve just finished reading the reading Big Sick Heart and agree with you, Bob.
    And excellent book – gut-wrenching in places.

    Great review.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I haven’t read Big Sick Heart yet, but your review makes me want to read it! It’s on my Kindle as we speak. Congrats to Mike Markel, you must be one heck of a good writer to get this kind of praise from RectorWriter!
    Happy New Year to all!
    Marsha Roberts (AKA Mutinous Boomer)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. You’ve made me want to buy and read this book. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a good review, Bob. I’ve read no 4 in the series and am going through the rest as we speak. Terrific stories, all of them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent review. Mike is a new author to me, so thanks for the recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great review, Bob! Look forward to reading the book 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you, Fros. You won’t be disappointed.


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