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Occam's Razor

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Another great read from Joe Clifford, this time our main character is a former rising-star athlete who due to injury had to change career. He now heads up a security firm on the West Coast. Oz gets called back to his former home of Miami to look into the seemingly solid murder conviction of the son of a former boss. Lots of family drama surrounds the murder, and lots of great supporting characters try to help Oz find his way to the truth. Great action and dialogue from Clifford, the pages flew by in this solid 4-star read.
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At one time, Oz Reyes was a UMiami running back. Potential 1st round draft pick. Until a bar fight blew out his ACL. The NFL turned their back on him. A local Miami business, Ten +1, a global sports marketing company, picks him up and gives him a job in security. Now, 20-some years later, Oz overseas west coast security for big events like the NFL draft, Hollywood award shows. Stuff like that. Ten + 1 is a family business. The Dupree family of Miami. The dad was a wiz at betting the ponies and used the profits to set the company off and running. His daughter, Delma, expanded the reach of the company into a Fortune 400 brand. She had two children. Jackson is the heir apparent. Janelle was the wild child. And Rodney, a street punk adopted by Delma as a project to be saved. At 16, Janelle became pregnant. When the child, Juniper, was born, she was taken from her and Janelle went off the deep end, ending up in a super secure hospital for people with incurable mental disease. The daughter grows up to be just like her mother and, at 13, ends up dead. All the evidence at the gruesome crime scene leads directly to Rodney. It’s an air-tight, open and shut case. Rodney confesses and gets life without parole. Delma summons Oz to Miami. She has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and is fading. As one of her last requests, she asks Oz to look into the Rodney’s case. She is convinced he is innocent. She give Oz the police’s case file. One of the overarching questions is why Delma, with the ability to hire the very best investigators in the world would ask a washed-up jock who mostly makes sure events run smoothly to investigate. But Oz owes his post-college life to Delma and agrees. What he finds within the underbelly of the South Beach rich and famous isn’t pretty; dang ugly is what it is. Oz looks up his former girlfriend for a couple reasons. One is to see if they still have feelings for each other and the other is that her brother is connected to the Cuban underworld and can get him into places he would never be able to enter. Like Rodney’s prison. And Janelle’s hospital. And get the full police file that has details withheld from Delma.
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Occam’s Razor is a scientific and philosophical rule that basically boils down to not making things more complicated than they need to be. The simplest explanation is often the correct one, in other words.

And I have no idea why that is the title of this book, because there is nothing simple or obvious about the situation security consultant Oz Reyes finds himself investigating when his boss calls him from LA to Miami. He owes Delma, who took a chance on giving him a job when Oz blew his knee out before his NFL career even got started, but what she’s asking him for makes no sense… to prove her adopted son didn’t commit the terrible crime of killing her granddaughter.

Delma is unwell, suffering from severe mental agitation and deteriorating fast. Oz takes the case to humour her, thinking there can’t be anything in it, but when within days he’s set up to lose his job and his apartment is broken into by someone who can only be looking for the file Delma gave him, he realises maybe there’s something in Delma’s ramblings.

There’s a lot of violence in the book and some triggers need to be warned for, including mental illness, CSA, incest, violent death (including of a child), substance abuse and more. None of it is gratuitous though and Oz is a sympathetic protagonist with a strong moral code, revolted by what he finds out and refusing to be bought by the big money he’s offered to sit down and be quiet. He’s coming in to a cold case but he’s not entirely without prejudices, since he knew all the main players previously, before murder blew the family apart.

I really enjoyed this read. I liked Oz and the characters he pulled in around him, especially his ex Tania and her brother Angel, his Miami contacts who stood by him when the world was caving in. I really liked the way he was like a dog with a bone once he’d got wind that there was a cover up going on, and the story throws in a huge number of twists and turns, including one at the very end I absolutely didn’t see coming. Not everything is tied off all that neatly, but then, real life usually isn’t… especially not when the rich and powerful get involved and decide there are certain secrets that need to stay buried. The ending was satisfying enough, for Oz and for me, but I gotta say, I’d love to see Oz appear in more stories. 

Five stars for an excellent read with some twists I didn’t see coming.
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Expect the unexpected all the way through.
“Occam’s Razor” by Joe Clifford is filled with paradoxes despite the title that hints that the most logical explanation with the fewest complicated assumptions is probably correct.  Readers follow the story through the perspective of Oscar “Oz” Reyes, former football star sidelined by an injury and now director of security operations for Coastal Sports Network. Oz finds that everything he encounters is illogical, and filled with hidden secrets and implications. Sensitive readers should be mindful that it contains street language, coarse conversations, and a violent crime involving an underage girl.
Oz is a tragic yet compelling character. He wallows in self-pity, and yet realizes that he has, in fact, made a lot of mistakes. Readers know what he thinks, what he says to others, and what others say to him. Delma Dupree, owner of the mega sports conglomerate where Oz works, has a request. “I want you to find who really raped and murdered my granddaughter. Of course Oz has no experience as an investigator, not to mention that someone confessed to the murder and is serving life without parole.  
Clifford provides readers with extensive background on the family, their complicated relationships, their crime dossier, and their moral shortcomings. This is a family from the real south where family secrets are deeply buried. Family members do share some common threads no matter how seemingly disjointed, however Oz soon finds that almost everything about them is inconsistent and unreliable; the Duprees are like a monster that cannot be killed; cut off one head, another takes its place.
 “Occam’s Razor” is the gritty and raw story of power, money, control, perseverance, and lie after lie after lie. I was given a review copy of “Occam’s Razor” by Joe Clifford and Down & out Books. It is a story with twists all along the way from the disputed start to the unexpected finish.
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At one time, Oz Reyes was a UMiami running back. Potential 1st round draft pick. Until a bar fight blew out his ACL. The NFL turned their back on him. A local Miami business, Ten +1, a global sports marketing company, picks him up and gives him a job in security. Now, 20-some years later, Oz overseas west coast security for big events like the NFL draft, Hollywood award shows. Stuff like that.

Ten + 1 is a family business. The Dupree family of Miami. The dad was a wiz at betting the ponies and used the profits to set the company off and running. His daughter, Delma, expanded the reach of the company into a Fortune 400 brand. She had two children. Jackson is the heir apparent. Janelle was the wild child. And Rodney, a street punk adopted by Delma as a project to be saved.

At 16, Janelle became pregnant. When the child, Juniper, was born, she was taken from her and Janelle went off the deep end, ending up in a super secure hospital for people with incurable mental disease. The daughter grows up to be just like her mother.

And, at 13, ends up dead. All the evidence at the gruesome crime scene leads directly to Rodney. It’s an air-tight, open and shut case. Rodney confesses and gets life without parole.

Delma summons Oz to Miami. She has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and is fading. As one of her last requests, she asks Oz to look into the Rodney’s case. She is convinced he is innocent. She give Oz the police’s case file.

One of the overarching questions is why Delma, with the ability to hire the very best investigators in the world would ask a washed-up jock who mostly makes sure events run smoothly to investigate. But Oz owes his post-college life to Delma and agrees. What he finds within the underbelly of the South Beach rich and famous isn’t pretty; dang ugly is what it is. Oz looks up his former girlfriend for a couple reasons. One is to see if they still have feelings for each other and the other is that her brother is connected to the Cuban underworld and can get him into places he would never be able to enter. Like Rodney’s prison. And Janelle’s hospital. And get the full police file that has details withheld from Delma.

Never read anything by Joe Clifford, but I hope my county library has some of his earlier work. This really was an entertaining story. Maybe he’ll start up an Oz Reyes series? He writes mostly mysteries (I see a ‘Jay Porter’ series of 5 books) 3 standalones (like this one), and some short story collections. Gotta respect a writer whose love for his craft extends beyond the printed page: his two sons are named Holden (for Holden Caulfield) and Jackson (for Jack Kerouac).
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Occam's Razor is a philosophical concept which in its simplest layman terms says the simplest solution is the best one.  Oscar "Oz" Reyes is the detective in this one, but "detective" only in the most general sense.  Like William Campbell Gault's Brock Callahan, Oz is an ex Football player whose knees gave out after a bar fight in Miami.  The resemblance ends there.  Oz never set up shop as a private eye.  He's a head is a head of security for a sports events company, brought in years ago because the boss was a booster for his college team.  She's now in her twilight years, half out of her mind, but wants him to see if her son is wrongly convicted for the rape and murder of her granddaughter.  Like any classic mystery, Oz is warned off the case by various family members, snipers, and even the boss herself (who seemingly changed her mind about revisiting the dirty family secrets).  A great action-packed mystery featuring an amateur sleuth who has no good reason for doggedly pursuing the truth - other than an outsized concept of truth and justice.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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Joe Clifford steps away from his fabulous Jay Porter series to South Florida where ex football star Oz is asked by a family friend to look into her families past. A fast paced crime noir that Clifford has mastered the genre. Another enjoyable, a bit to short for me, but great reading. Enjoy, recommended.
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