Coastal Empire

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Private eye Robert Mercer is caught up in a case of real estate fraud, jewelry theft and murder in sultry and mysterious Savannah. He and his motley crew go after the bad guys and experience some surprising supernatural twists along the way. More

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About Rocky Leonard

Rocky Leonard is the pen name used by John L. Leonard for his fiction work, chosen in honor of his father. In real life, Rocky Leonard was one of the most colorful characters you could ever want to meet. John credits his dad for the sarcastic wit and cynicism of the Robert Mercer character.

The author routinely writes articles for a number of online publications and was interviewed on the Dennis Miller radio show. Coastal Empire is his first novel. He has also written short stories for an anthology about animals and is editing his second detective novel, Secondhand Sight.

John holds a BBA from the University of Georgia and worked as a computer programmer for more than twenty years before becoming a writer. His writing has also been influenced by shorter stints working as a bartender, real estate investor and landlord.

He has been married to wife Lisa for twenty-two years. John is the proud father of two and grandfather of three, as well as pack leader for several wonderful dogs and one crazy cat.

Born in Savannah, John has spent most of his adult life in the northern suburbs of Atlanta. The local color in his writing is equally authentic whether the setting is a Georgia beach, downtown Atlanta, or the Appalachian foothills in north Georgia.

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Reviews

Review by: Warren Beatty on May 18, 2012 : star star star star star
This novel is every bit the equal of any Michael Connelly novel.

The story starts rather slowly, and relies upon coincidences. But then it starts to move rapidly, and you find out that what you thought were coincidental meetings of story characters were not so coincidental.

The story centers upon at least two situations with several characters participating. Plot twists are very entertaining.

Leonard makes Savannah, Tybee Island, Atlanta, and other Georgia locations come to life with his accurate descriptions.

The only question I have is: Where did Leonard learn about all the illegal and unethical and violent activities he describes?

I look forward to Leonard's next novel.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: RevRhino on Feb. 04, 2012 : (no rating)
Leonard's first novel is a fast paced and rich tapestry of both intrigue and suspense. The characters and story lines are well developed and gripping. As a native of Savannah, I found myself riveted to the wonderful use and descriptions of places and activities near to my heart. The author's use of multiple characters added depth and complexity to the story line. The skill the author used to weave the story lines together by the end displays superior ability as both an author and storyteller. I highly recommend this book which is both inviting and enriching!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: David Thornton on Jan. 31, 2012 : star star star star star
Rocky Leonard’s first novel, “Coastal Empire,” is a fast ride through Georgia’s coastal Chatham County and Savannah. The book features Robert Mercer, a Marine veteran (“there’s no such thing as an ex-Marine”) who runs a private detective agency in the Savannah suburb of Thunderbolt with the help of Ox, his very capable German Shepherd partner.

When Mercer comes to the aid of a damsel in distress, it puts him on the trail of a sinister plot involving precious jewels, high-priced real estate, and murder. Before long, the bodies start to pile up as drug dealers, jewel thieves, and a professional hit man stalk Mercer and his associates, including Kelly, a sexy jewelry store employee who may not be as innocent as she seems.

Leonard takes his readers on a journey through the local haunts of Savannah, Tybee Island and coast al Georgia. Local readers will appreciate the attention to detail in the descriptions of the area, and those who admire Savannah from afar will find hints of places to go and things to see when they have the chance to visit.

The book moves quickly and its many plot twists keep readers guessing. The criminal mastermind’s ingenious plot is simple but effective and plausible enough to feel threateningly possible. It is also easily concealed from the eyes of the public and law enforcement… until Mercer’s client stumbles upon it.

Leonard’s villains are not caricatures. In fact, one of the most interesting characters is DeVaughn Harris. A mild-mannered auto mechanic by day, Harris moonlights as a hit man by night. The juxtaposition of friendly boss and cold-blooded contract killer makes Harris seem all the more real and leaves one wondering about the secret lives of people that we encounter on a daily basis.

“Coastal Empire” is the first book in the Robert Mercer series. He will likely be back with his Savannah buddies to solve a new mystery soon. It will be interesting to find out more about Mercer and his friends, such as how a seemingly supernatural event in a historic Savannah cemetery affects him, whether Kelly remains in the picture, and whether the events in “Coastal Empire” inspire Nick, a brilliant programmer and confirmed Generation X slacker, to change his life’s course.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Crystal Nelson on Jan. 30, 2012 : (no rating)
Coastal Empire is a fun engaging ride into the quirky atmosphere of Savannah! Written by a hometown boy, Rocky Leonard who grew up in Savannah, Coastal Empire describes Savannah as only a true Savannahian could! World renowned Bonaventure Cemetery is exactly as the author describes and I love much of the action is in Greenwich Cemetery where my wonderful parents rest in what my family calls "the room with a view". The story unfolds at a fast pace that hooks you immediately that keeps you glued for the next twist in a complicated plot! Robert Mercer is a great hero in the style of Sam Spade and takes no guff from anyone! You'll fall in love with his dog also! And if you know Savannah can be quirky, Tybee is even quirkier! A must read for local Savannahians and if you've never been to Savannah, you'll learn a lot about it! I am eagerly anticipating the next book of another mystery with Robert Mercer taking out the bad guys in beautiful historical Savannah! Highly recommended!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

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