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Four of Clubs: Murder in the High Sierra

crime novel, murder mystery, adventure, romance
Four of Clubs: Murder in the High Sierra, a novel of adventure, romance, betrayal

Four of Clubs is an adventure novel and murder mystery set in the Sierra Nevada of California in the 1970s, ’80s and the present day. It’s a tale of lifelong friendship, coming of age, and falling in—then out—of love.

There is one woman, Serena Swallow, and three men, Pete, Don and Ed. She’s rootless. They’re blood brothers, best buds since boyhood. Pete and Don are fraternal twins, rejected by their parents and brought up in separate households.

At Coyote Canyon, a fashionable ski resort in the High Sierra, theirs is not a love triangle. It’s a club of four.  Members belong till death do they part.

Passion, lust, betrayal and revenge rage against brotherly love and lifelong loyalty. There are scores to settle and mysteries to unravel. Was the Christmastide avalanche that swept Serena away an accident—or murder? What about Pete and Don falling off a thousand-foot cliff in the same spot more than forty years later?

The last man standing is Edward Dobbs, also known as Ed the Talking Horse. He’s an unlikely detective—gawky, mild-mannered, exceptionally honest. But Ed is going to find the truth of what happened in Coyote Canyon then and now, even if it kills him.

“A terrifying premise, a beautiful but lethal locale,
and a web of erotic entanglements”

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“Featuring a terrifying premise, a beautiful but lethal locale, and a web of erotic entanglements spanning generations and countries, David Downie’s Four of Clubs casts a spinetingling spell.  The depictions of sexual transgressions here remind me of Lawrence Durrell’s Justine, while the explorations of memory and its deceptions recall Julian Barnes’ A Sense of an Ending — but the verve and the nerve and the surprises are all fresh. I couldn’t put it down.

Rose Solari, co-founder of Alan Squire Publishing, author of The Last Girl (poetry) and A Secret Woman (a novel)

Sinewy and pungent, with a fabulous start. What a potent ride! The twists and turns and uncertainties keep you guessing throughout and the depth of emotion at the final denouement is a gut wrencher. Four of Clubs is a very complex story. The relationships are troubling, heart-felt, ambivalent. I loved the light and shade. It is fascinating the way the author unwinds the red herrings and the dead ends, truths and lies, and as a reader you are constantly trying to piece together what is real and what is not.”

James Burstall, CEO, Argonon, a television and film media company

“Four of Clubs takes place in the physical landscape of the rocky and steep Sierra of California, but as it unfolds with questions of revenge, love, murder, suicide and incest, finds itself nearer the psychological terrain of ancient Greek myth. The author of this deep, mysterious and surprising book is David Downie. But I wonder if the real author is not Zeus. Zeus has written a page-turner.

Joanna Biggar, author of That Paris Year and Melanie’s Song

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