Checkmate The Murderer

Even Dead Men Play Chess and The Grandmaster’s King; Michael Weitz; Musa Publishing 2012 and 2013

– Tiya Mary Joshi

The book opens with the death of Erica, a girl who dies in a horrific accident on her seventh birthday in an explosion caused by the fumes of preparation of methamphetamine at her home. The narrator and the protagonist is Ray Gordon who is a chess teacher to this little girl’s brother.

Ray teaches chess to many, and among them is Walter Kelly who is two and a half hours’ drive away from him, and this time when he goes the Kelly family tell him Walter (an expert in wood working) has died from accidentally falling on his table saw. Ray trusts his instincts and believes that it is a murder. But why is a 65-year-old without any vices, murdered? To uncover this he plays detective in action, goofs up a bit, finds evidences knowingly and unknowingly and discovers that it is the family property, a wooden cabin which seems to be the center of the problems. Heading out there he finds a meth lab, gets caught sneaking. He realises that Walter himself had left him clues in his chess book with reference to the Evergreen Game (a tactic in Chess). He just has to find that hidden move, which will seal it. A lot of action follows which ends with him finally finding that Walter’s trusted neighbor and friend was the drug dealer who had chanced upon Walter’s cabin, and when Walter found this out had murdered him to keep his business going.

A Super short read, but be prepared to read it at one go, because once you pick it up you don’t feel like keeping it down unless you are done with it. There’s lot of action and movement in this book towards the end to justify all the unconscious build-up that the author does create, and it doesn’t disappoint. It is very interesting to see how the author unfolds the events in a chess teacher’s life for a couple of days into an investigative short mystery. A very steady book and a sure page turner without any lags; it is a very engrossing read which I can’t find anything to complain about.


When a book comes from the author of Even Dead Men Play Chess, I have high expectations. And surely my expectations were delivered.

Ray Gordon, a retired police officer and an avid chess player is getting a chance at meeting his friend who is now a chess Grandmaster. Charlie, the grandmaster, was in town for a chess tournament. Meet he did, but rather, discovered him dead in his hotel room in an apparent suicide, with a chess board set in a game and the chess King laid down in resignation. Not believing that his friend is capable of killing himself he sets out on a mission to find out who did it. He heard allegations of his friend having an affair, of being in debt for huge sums of money, having gambling issues and what not. In the course of it almost got killed, his dog almost got killed, his house was vandalised, and he kept receiving mysterious notes, met mobsters and even got arrested for murder. All while playing a tango with his emotions for his long-time best friend, Carla.
Was it suicide, was it chess rivalry, was the mob after him or was it totally something else?

While keeping the suspense in play, the author doesn’t ignore the life of the chief protagonist, Ray Gordon. Delving into his relations with an ex-colleague, his long-time love, his traumatised past and his relation with those whom he plays with and teaches chess to and others, the author makes it more than a suspense thriller that is driven only for solving a mystery.

The author ensures that the life of Ray doesn’t look like a standalone scene from the previous book. You would find Ray playing on the beautiful hand-made wooden chess set that Walter (Even Dead Men Play Chess) gifted him long ago.

The book is an absolute page turner and comes with bonuses for chess enthusiasts in the form of game depictions and moves. A perfect read when you want a bit of action, emotion and drama.

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Rating: 9.3/10 (9 votes cast)
Checkmate The Murderer, 9.3 out of 10 based on 9 ratings

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 at 12:06 pm and is filed under Crime, Fiction, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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