Overall score: 2.75
Disclosure: I added half a star back on when I discovered that the author is not a native English speaker. This would certainly explain some of the awkward construction and grammar gaffes, so I was inclined to be forgiving. All the same, this book would have been far better if professionally edited. Lots of run-on sentences, awkward phrasing and so on could have been corrected.
This could have been a really outstanding murder mystery. Our protagonist, Henry, is a retired police officer from Wisconsin. He's moved to Palm Springs for the improved weather (one presumes). He's been widowed for a while, as we learn over the course of the tale.
The book does start off with a literal bang; a somewhat shady Palm Springs realtor is bumped off in one of the properties he's trying to sell. The local sheriff asks Henry's help in investigating the matter, as Henry is apparently a freelance profiler for the FBI. Never mind that Henry doesn't seem to know things that a profiler would (e.g., the difference between a pedophile and an ephebephile), and that he seems to do an awful lot of blabbing about this investigation to people who are not involved. Never mind that the local sheriff talks about destroying evidence in an ongoing case ("It's been cataloged and is on its way for destruction" is a direct quote) and other improbabilities.
Throw in that it was unfortunately easy to figure out whodunnit and you'll get my overall disappointment. I will hand it to Mr. Simon; he definitely knows his Coachella Valley geography, although he falls a little flat in terms of other places like Palo Alto and Los Altos ("there's not much there" came as a surprise to me, having been to Los Altos on many occasions).
So, yes ... there was a great framework here that could have resulted in an outstanding tale. It just fell very flat for me.
(review of free book)