While most books on golf will be in the sports or instructional section of your neighborhood book store, various authors have dabbled in constructing fictional novels with golf as a setting. Notable mystery author Agatha Christie is perhaps the most famous of these writers, having authored her "The Murder on the Links" and "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" fan favorites. Steve McMillen's Murder on the Front Nine pays homage to Christie and others in a pleasant, intriguing effort.
Set in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Front Nine tells the story of ex-Green Beret and current Renaissance Man Mickke D who becomes wrapped in a mystery that includes assassinations, political corruption, a treasure hunt and even a Columbian drug cartel. McMillen's first novel includes a deep cast of characters that escort the reader through an exciting stroll along Highways 17 and 501 near the Grand Strand, Bald Head Island in North Carolina and plenty of well-known golf courses on the way.
As a frequent visitor to Myrtle Beach, I couldn't help but enjoy the many city references and settings throughout the story that reminded me of my many vacations to the area. I often found myself sitting with Google Maps open on my laptop as I read through Mickke D's story, reminiscing on restaurants and golf courses I've visited that were referenced in the book. Above all that, I was rather impressed with the depth and detail of the story itself in McMillen's self-published effort (which I also appreciated as a self-published author myself).
Front Nine is an easy read that would make a great companion for any long road trip or as light reading during your winter vacation this season. While the subject matter is mature and at times complex, McMillen does his best to guide the reader along the twisting plot in a clear, concise manner. Admittedly, there were moments in the story that seem to stumble as more characters are introduced and their relationships with one another become muddled. However, these moments are brief and infrequent. I suspect an additional review by an experienced editor would further enhance Front Nine, but the current story could hold its own in a match against any veteran mystery writer.
Overall, I enjoyed Murder on the Front Nine and the captivating tale of Mickke D and the characters he encounters. The mystery is explained well, timely to current events and can be appreciated by readers ranging from young adult to mystery novel enthusiasts. McMillen's attention to detail and his ability to paint a picture in the imagination of the reader is that of an expert despite being his debut offering. It is a work of which he should be proud.