Almost two years have passed since Aaron Custer supposedly set a fire at a house in Columbus that killed three college students, including the young woman with whom he had argued just hours before. Prosecutors had an ironclad case against Custer, a convicted firebug whose fingerprints were found on the lighter that started the blaze and who quickly pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty.Private investigator and fallen Ohio State football star Andy Hayes is skeptical when Custer’s grandmother asks him to reopen the investigation by finding a mysterious witness who may have seen the real culprit that night. Andy’s doubts fade as he uncovers a tangle of motives for the victims’ deaths, implicating the state’s natural gas fracking boom, drug dealers, and more. But to delve deeper, Andy must once again make amends with his past. TV reporter Suzanne Gregory, a former fiancée, has more information on the Orton Avenue fire than any journalist in town, but asking for her help means reopening old wounds—just as Andy has embarked on a new relationship he’s determined not to screw up. As Andy follows Custer’s trail down ever-darker paths, he must revisit his past and decide whether he can afford to forfeit his future.
Author and reviewer Bill Osinski called Fourth Down and Out, the first of the Andy Hayes mysteries, “A tall, frosty stein of Middle-American noir, backed with a healthy shot of wry.” In this second installment, Andrew Welsh-Huggins draws on real events and current affairs to bring his city to life—warts and all.
PI Andy Woody Hayes, a disgraced Ohio State quarterback, continues to struggle with both his occupation and his reputation in Welsh-Huggins s convoluted follow-up to 2014 s Fourth Down and Out. Aaron Custer is in prison for life with no chance of parole after being convicted of setting a house fire that killed three O.S.U. students and seriously injured a fourth. Aaron, who was horribly drunk the night of fire, confessed to the crime, and plenty of evidence points to his guilt, including his loud argument with one of the victims shortly before the arson. Meanwhile, Dorothy Custer, Aaron s grandmother, has learned from Aaron that a fellow inmate claims to know someone who knows who actually set the fatal fire. Dorothy hires Andy to track down this alleged eyewitness. In pursuit of the truth, Andy uncovers several sordid stories among the people he interviews while putting himself in grave danger. Andy gets a lot wrong before getting it right, but his dogged digging is fun to follow.