Foreword Reviews

Ballast Point Breakdown

A Rolly Waters Mystery

Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5

Entertaining and told with panache, Ballast Point Breakdown is a gripping mystery that forwards clues and prompts laughter.

Corey Lynn Fayman’s Ballast Point Breakdown is a pitch perfect murder mystery featuring an eccentric detective.

Private detective Rolly Waters finds himself enmeshed in a far-out case. During a farewell party for the US Navy’s elite Dolphin Divers program, a massive fire erupts at the Admiral’s Club. Every attendee flees the flames but one—Janis, who runs toward the flames, shouting her last words: “Arion has returned.”

At the same time, a pair of dog tags is found in San Diego. They belong to Butch Fleetwood, a punk singer, journalist, animal rights activist, and former member of the Dolphin Divers who disappeared twenty years prior. Rolly takes the case. Alone, he pieces together Janis’s death and strange warning with the mystery of missing Butch.

Razor-sharp writing renders Rolly a classic detective. His cynical worldview dominates, though he’s also sometimes funny, especially when he mocks his antagonists and the strange cast of Southern California characters whom he meets during his investigation. Rolly plays a mean guitar and proves to be a capable swimmer. Best of all, he’s an excellent investigator, pulling the audience along as he investigates the navy, the San Diego underworld, and a strange casino located on a remote, otherwise deserted Mexican island.

Other characters are idiosyncratic as well, from the two seeming victims to menacing FBI agents and a character called Dick Nazi. Each of these oddballs helps to unravel the mystery; each is the opposite of fun-loving Rolly, and all serve as good foils. Still, everything circles back to Rolly, whose humor and toughness can be felt on every page; though he’s not the narrator, he speaks the most throughout the novel, and always has plenty to say.

The writing moves with speed, is heavy on dialogue, and centers the mystery on most pages. Each chapter features a clue, a major development, or violence; it’s the violence that hurts Rolly the most.

The central mystery is bizarre and complicated, involving a criminal conspiracy, government interference, and intertwining pasts, including Rolly’s own tortured history. Rolly’s past is well incorporated, especially near the book’s satisfying conclusion: he has to come to grips with his buried memories before he can tackle the monster of a case and work toward a celebration over music at a favorite taco bar.

Entertaining and told with panache, Ballast Point Breakdown is a gripping mystery that forwards clues and prompts laughter.

Reviewed by Benjamin Welton

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Load Next Review