In “Fourth Down and Out,” the debut book in Andrew Welsh-Huggins’ detective series, Andy Hayes describes himself as “possibly the most reviled individual in Ohio sports history.” Five books later, in “Fatal Judgment,” he’s only slightly less reviled. Having been convicted of shaving points while a quarterback at Ohio State, and then blowing a turn with the Browns, Andy has found a career as a private investigator.

Years before, Andy had worked as a bodyguard for Laura Porter, a common pleas court judge who had received some threats, and the two had a brief affair. Now she is asking for his help again, telling him that she is in “real trouble.” But before she can explain, she gets a phone call and leaves. Hours go by with no response to his texts.

The next day, Laura does not report to work. Andy consults a sheriff’s detective, who reaches the judge on the phone; she angrily berates Andy for interfering in her business but using language that is uncharacteristic. He tries unsuccessfully to convince the detective she’s sending him a message.

Unknown to the judge, Andy had kept a key to Laura’s house. In a search, he finds some clues that lead him to a swamp near Columbus, where a man assaults him. Research leads to unlikely links between land developers, environmentalists, Cleveland lawyers, the cloud and a substantial stash of dead birds.

Andy enlists the wary cooperation of a Mohican County policewoman whose search for a missing local man has been fruitless. Many people are involved in a plot that costs Andy time, thought and blood to unravel.

“Fatal Judgment” (264 pages, hardcover) costs $26.95 from Ohio University Press. Andrew Welsh-Huggins covers criminal justice for the Associated Press in Columbus. In addition to six Andy Hayes books, he also is the author of “Hatred at Home: Al-Qaida on Trial in the American Midwest” and other nonfiction.

 

Kent's music scene

 

Joe Walsh is the first name that comes to mind when thinking about Kent’s reputation in music history, and he did indeed write the foreword to “Small Town, Big Music: The Outside Influence of Kent, Ohio, on the History of Rock and Roll” by Jason Prufer. Other prominent musicians associated with Kent State are Patrick Carney of the Black Keys and former student Chrissie Hynde.

It is, however, the astonishing variety of visiting acts that make this book engrossing reading for anyone interested in local music history: A student who attended Kent State from 1969 to 1973 could attend concerts by B.B. King, Sly and the Family Stone, Sha Na Na opening for Jefferson Airplane, Parliament-Funkadelic, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Yes, Santana, Pink Floyd, James Taylor, Frank Zappa, Paul Simon, and Earth, Wind, and Fire — all for about 50 bucks. If he or she had stuck around another year, a seat to see Bruce Springsteen could have been had for $4.

Prufer’s research turned up dozens of concert reviews that appeared in the Daily Kent Stater, the university newspaper. They reveal a surprising access to the performers, who often gave backstage interviews (Smokey Robinson offered some political opinions in 1968; remarking on the Robert Kennedy assassination, Robinson said that he had supported Kennedy’s presidential bid but now did not know what to do.) Photographers were given so much freedom that it was a shock when a yearbook photographer was limited to only the first few minutes of a Pink Floyd concert; now, 46 years later, he remembers Roger Waters’ hostile attitude from the stage. Most photographers did get outstanding action shots.

Complaints about the sound quality in Memorial Gymnasium, where the majority of the concerts were held, were frequent. The reviewer covering the 1972 Elton John concert in the “anti-acoustic” venue walked out, citing the “monotony” of the artist’s repertoire, the fact that the guitar could not be heard and the rudeness of the audience members who would not sit down.

“Small Town, Big Music” (216 pages, hardcover) costs $29.95 from Kent State University Press. Jason Prufer is a Kent State alumnus and works for the Kent State University Library.

 

Book events

 

Rocky River Public Library (1600 Hampton Road): Liz Ferro talks about “Girls with Sole: A Girl Power Guide to Unleashing Your Inner Superhero,” 7-8 p.m. Tuesday.

Troutman Vineyard (4243 Columbus Road S., Wooster): The Buckeye Book Fair debuts its “Authors on the Vine” series with 97-year-old veteran Bill Wynne and Nancy Roe Pimm, authors of “Smokey, the Dog That Saved My Life: A World War II Story,” 6 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $12 and include a glass of wine. Buy tickets at Eventbrite.com.

Barnes & Noble (198 Crocker Park Blvd.): Marissa Dike of Cincinnati talks about “Liam’s Town,” a young adult novel about a teen whose life changes when a stranger comes to town, 2 p.m. Saturday.

 

Send information about books of local interest to Cheryl Powell, managing editor/news, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or bjnews@thebeaconjournal.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.