Friday, January 28, 2022

This Weekend's Read: DIRTY AIR by Joe Congel




Crossing the finish line from the dark side of the track can make it hard to find the winner’s circle.
The adrenaline rush is real. So is the danger.
Stock car or modified. Track or street. One can make you famous… the other can make you dead.

Tony “Razzman” Razzolito is in way over his head as he works to solve the most challenging case of his career. An up-and-coming NASCAR driver is found shot to death in an alley in uptown Charlotte. When the widow of the victim asks Tony and his partner at McHenry Investigative Services to find out why her husband was killed, the Razzman gets a quick education in a sport he knows nothing about.

His investigation soon leads him to the world of illegal street racing where he tangles with a crew led by a maniac that doesn’t like to lose.

Mix in a healthy dose of tension between Tony and a certain Homicide Detective assigned to the case and tempers as well as egos are bound to get in the way.

This is book 3 in the popular Razzman Mystery Crime Files series 





  I leaned forward. “Robin,” I said, gently. “I’m not a big NASCAR guy. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’d never heard of your husband before yesterday, and I only know the Carter-Swanson name because I’ve seen their car dealerships all over Charlotte.”

  She looked at me strangely and then cut her eyes over to Scott. He glanced at me and then said to her, “He’s from New York.”

As if that would somehow explain everything.

  “Look,” I said, leaning back in my chair. “I’m a baseball guy. You wanna talk batting stats, power hitters, stolen base leaders, the Yankees, or any other baseball related stuff, I’m your man.” I shook my head. “But, racing? It’s just not my thing. I’ve been to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York more times than I can count, but I’ve never been to the NASCAR Hall of Fame even once… and it’s here in Charlotte!” I sighed. “So, I’m asking you to please treat me like I don’t know anything about the race business… because I don’t.”

  The room was silent. I was looking at Robin Trevino. Robin Trevino was looking at Scott. Scott was looking at me. After a minute of awkward silence, Robin Trevino stood up.

  “Is there a restroom?” she asked. She was still not looking at me.

  Scott stood and opened the door. “Go back down to our reception area, go out the main door to our office into the hallway and turn right. The bathrooms are between our suite and the suite next door to us.”

  “Thank you,” she murmured, as she walked past Scott.

  I hadn’t moved. I took in a deep breath. As I exhaled, I asked, “Think she’ll be back?”

  Scott scowled at me. “Would you?”

  “I’m sorry, Scott,” I said. “But it’s not a crime to not be a NASCAR fan.”

  “It is if you live in Charlotte.”

  I sat there thinking about that for a minute. I’m a pretty good private detective, and I’m reasonably certain that we could help Mrs. Trevino find out who killed her husband. That being said, I understood that I would need to do a lot more research into the world of NASCAR to get a feel for what may have motivated someone to shoot a young, up-and-coming driver. But then again, it just might not have anything to do with racing.

  I looked up at Scott, who was still standing at the door. “To be fair, being a race fan is not a requirement for solving this murder. I’m not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings here, but I’m not gonna pretend either—”

  Scott cut me off. “—here she comes.” He looked hard at me. “Be nice.”

  Robin Trevino re-entered our conference room and took the same seat she was in before her bathroom break.

  I tried to speak first. “Mrs. Trevino… Robin… I didn’t mea—”

  “You know,” she said, interrupting me. “When I left here a few minutes ago, I had no intention of coming back in here. My first thought was that maybe I was wrong about coming here in the first place.” She paused, and I tried to speak again. She cut me off again. “Please, Mr. Razzolito, let me finish.” I sat quietly. “I mean, I had never heard of anyone that didn’t like NASCAR… or of anyone that didn’t know who my husband was.” She lowered her head and sighed. After a few seconds, she looked up, her eyes finding mine. “For the last three years, Jarrod and I have been on an amazing journey.” She shook her head in disbelief. “I… I guess we got swept up in all of it. Everywhere we went, people knew who we were. Jarrod was the new ‘it guy’ on the circuit, and he and I were both being interviewed all the time.” She shrugged. “We were royalty… it never occurred to me that you didn’t know who he was… who I was.” She lowered her head again and almost whispered. “I guess your reaction stung me.” She was slowly shaking her head back and forth.

Three quirky Foodie Facts about Tony Razzolito: 

1.       He loves pizza. But since he’s from NY State, he only eats authentic NY-style pies, and never from national chain pizza stores.

2.       He’s kind of a beer snob. He drinks craft beers exclusively, with his favorites being the rich, amber style.

3.     Although a New Yorker at heart, he’s embraced southern food and loves a good pulled pork sandwich and will put coleslaw on his hotdogs.  




Joe Congel grew up in Syracuse, NY, and currently lives in beautiful Charlotte, NC. He got his first break in the world of publishing when he illustrated the humorous book, Housetraining Your VCR, A Help Manual for Humans, published by Grapevine Publications back in the early ’90s.

A few years after Housetraining set the world on fire, Joe decided that he was better suited as a writer rather than as an artist, so he began crafting stories that allowed the reader to use their own imagination to add the visuals to the narrative.

Since he’s enjoyed reading murder mysteries and PI detective stories all his life, he felt he had a pretty good grasp on how to create an engaging character in the world of private detecting. DEAD IS FOREVER is the first book in the Razzman Mystery Crime Files series, featuring Tony Razzolito, PI. The book is set in Syracuse, NY, and Charlotte, NC, with upcoming books in the series concentrated more in and around the Charlotte area. Joe is uniquely qualified to write about both areas of the country since he lived in Syracuse for 36 years and Charlotte for the last 25 plus years.

When he’s not writing, you will most likely find him spoiling his three grandchildren.

Buy links: 





My Amazon page: Joe Congel: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

Carter Novels/Indie Book Source: Books by Joe Congel – Indie Book Source 

Follow links:

FaceBook: Joe Congel Author | Facebook


Blog: Joe Congel Fiction Stories






  1. Wonderful title - congratulations Joe.

  2. Well done, Joe! I like the foodie bits, too!

    1. Thank you! Yes.. Tony likes to eat… lol!

    2. I'd take that coleslaw on a faux hotdog;)

  3. Congrats Joe on a good mystery that makes me think Colombo. I enjoyed reading the blurb. I don’t think I will ever place coleslaw on a hotdog but you would probably never have French fries with salt and vinegar:). Wishing you and Sandra a great weekend!

    1. Thank you! He is kind of a throw back to that era.

    2. I like vinegar and salt on fries:)
      Colombo style sums it up nicely. I'm reading DIRTY AIR right now and thoroughly enjoying it.

  4. Oh this is my first time reading a review about this author

    1. Hi, Sakuranko. I hope it’s not the last time you read about me! 🙂

    2. Joe's an excellent author. I love this series.

  5. This sounds great, good luck with the new book, Joe! Have a great weekend, hugs, Valerie

  6. Thank you, Sandra! I loved sharing a little bit of the Razzman’s world on your blog. 😊

  7. Love the cover! Best wishes with your series!

  8. Congrats on your latest release, Joe :) Great excerpt, I picked up book one.

    1. I think you'll really enjoy it, Denise. I sure did.

  9. Suerte con el libro. Te mando un beso

    1. Thanks for Joe's well wishes, J.P.
      Sending you a hug.

  10. Congratulations on the new book, Joe!
    hughugs to you And Joe!

  11. This sounds really good, Sandra. I haven't read a lot about NASCAR.

    1. I'm really enjoying it, Jacqui, and learning a lot about NASCAR:)

  12. Good luck with the new book, Joe.

    Happy Saturday and weekend wishes to all.

    All the best Jan

    1. Thanks for Joe's well wishes, Jan.
      Hope your Saturday was happy and that you enjoy the remains of your weekend.

  13. This looks excellent. Thanks for introducing me to a new-to-me author, Sandra.

    1. I'm really enjoying the series.
      Have a creative Sunday, Jacqui;)

  14. I am late to the party, Sandra, but this sounds like a mystery I would enjoy. It is the writing that impressed me. I could imagine myself sitting in that office, too.

    Thanks for showcasing Joe Congel and introducing me to him.

    1. You don't need to ever worry about being late. You're always welcome.
      Introducing Joe is entirely my pleasure. I'm thoroughly enjoying this series.