Maybe it’s the brain-curdling heat: South Florida produces some of the most consistently dark and funny crime fiction in the nation, from John D. MacDonald and Elmore Leonard through Carl Hiaasen and, now, John Dufresne. “No Regrets, Coyote,” the Dania Beach-based author’s fifth novel, is not a straightforward whodunit, not even by Florida standards. But as Dufresne follows the haphazard detecting work of protagonist Wyle “Coyote” Melville, he touches on issues of life, death, family, and the craziness of those living on the edge.
“No Regrets, Coyote” opens with a classic setup. Melville has been called to a crime scene where one Chafin Halliday has seemingly killed his family before shooting himself. Only our hero is not a conventional detective. He’s a divorced therapist with commitment issues who has an ability to empathize so strongly he can often experience what others are feeling. This allows him to see beyond the surface of a crime and make out both the causes and the clues for what doesn’t seem quite right. Needless to say, something is off about the Halliday murder-suicide, and Melville spends the rest of the novel getting to the bottom of it, as he also deals with his declining father, sibling issues, an ex-wife, an ex-girlfriend, and a magician best friend who makes a living at poker.