Saturday, June 15, 2019

First Kill The Lawyers (Holland Taylor) by David Housewright

David Housewright manages the feat to write two good PI series at the same time. This one, the Holland Taylor series (versus the Rush McKenzie series) is the most hardboiled of the two probably. In one particular chaptere Taylor proves he doesn't need any psycho sidekicks.
Taylor and his partner Freddie are hired by a group of attorneys who are being blackmailed because their files have been hacked. When they investigate and try to track down the hacker they get involved with a rich, but strange family.
The story has a slightly slow start with many different characters to keep up with, but when the stakes get higher the story becomes quite thrilling. There's also some great secondary regular characters in this series, especially the female ones.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Red City Blues (C.T. Ferguson) by Tom Fowler

Regular readers of my blog will know how much I love the novella. It's the best way to tell a really fast-paced PI story with all the fit trimmed off. It's a joy that Tom writes a lot of these.
C.T. Ferguson, hacker and PI is hired to find out who killed the son of Erma Johnson. He was found dead, wearing gang colors, but she's sure he wasn't in any gang. Aided by his police friend Ferguson investigates and uncovers several other killings.
Ferguson is a neat character because he's paid by his rich parents after solving a case, a concept that I like. His voice is nice to read, with some Spenser-like wit.
What did irk me a bit, as it did with other Ferguson stories, is how close the cops sometimes are willing to work with him. Also, the explanation Ferguson expected to do a lot detective work behind the computer but ends up in fights a lot was given a few times too many.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Atlanta Deathwatch (Jim Hardman) by Ralph Dennis

Too be honest this book wasn't what I was hoping for.
Ex-cop Jim Hardman, partnered with ex-NFL player Hump Evans is hired by the black mafia to investigate the murder of his white lover. There's a nice helping of action along the way and the prose is crisp enough. Jim and Hump are a good duo with some good banter, you can see the way they inspired guys like Hap & Leonard for sure.
However... At times the story seemed a bit too drawn out. The pacing sometimes slowed down for no good reason. I guess for an old mass market paperback I was expecting a bit more pulp and speed.
Still, good enough to pick up the rest of the series. Just not as good as I thought.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Free Fiction: Man's Ruin Part Five (A Lenny Parker serial) by Jochem Vandersteen

Lenny Parker, PI / roadie / metalhead is back in a new serial, every new part starting with a metal video. He’s my slightly more humorous version of the PI. He doesn’t exactly know what he’s doing and sure as hell isn’t the martial arts master my Noah Milano is. In the first episode of this new story he was hired to track down the girl who robbed an old buddy of his lottery ticket. See previous parts here.


“Okay, have a seat and tell me about your trouble,” Lenny said. He was prepared to hear some kind of bullshit sob story. But still, he felt obliged to listen to it. There was no harm in listening, right?

Janey sat down on the couch and started to cry. Her make-up ran down her face, reminding Lenny of the corpse paint his favorite black metal acts wore.

He sat down next to her. He couldn’t help but be moved. Her teams seemed genuine. And he’d always been a big soft-hearted sap. He patted her back. “Just go ahead and tell me.”

“It’s terrible. So terrible… You see, for years I’ve been a junkie. I just recently got clean. But five months ago, when I was still using… I kind of sold my baby…”

“You what?” Lenny wondered if all that heavy music had damaged his ears.

“I sold my baby. You see, I didn’t have the money to pay for my drugs anymore. And my dealer told me he would take my baby as collateral until I could pay him back for the drugs.”

“You’re shitting me.”

“I told you it was terrible. I’m so fucking ashamed of myself…”

“Relax. I’ve seen what drugs can do to people while I was on tour. I know it makes you do crazy things.”

“So, now I’m clean and I want my baby back. But my dealer wants me to pay a lot of interest before I get my baby back.”

“So he hung on to your baby like a fucking watch at a pawnshop?”

“I guess you could put it like that. But I must admit I’m afraid my baby isn’t alive anymore. Or that he just sold it to some rich folks who can’t have babies of their own.”

“I’m afraid that sounds somewhat likely. A drug dealer doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of person to spend the time taking care of a baby. Haven’t you seen any recent proof your baby is okay?”

She shook her head. “No, no I didn’t. But that’s why I’ve been stealing from guys I slept with. To get the money to pay to get my baby back.”

“I guess I understand that. How old is your baby?”

“Ryan is sixteen months old now.”

“We’ll get him back,” Lenny decided. “Did you already cash in the ticket?”

“Not yet. I figured it would be wiser to wait just a little while and not cash it in in San  Diego.”

“That’s better thinking then when you used your baby as collateral,” Lenny said.

“Fuck! I know I’m terrible! I hate myself for what I did!” Janey said and dug her nails into her cheeks, drawing blood.

Lenny grabbed her wrists, pulling her hands away from her face. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m going to help you get Ryan back and then you give Keith back his ticket.”

With large eyes Janey looked at Lenny, like a dying man hearing he is going to live anyway. With the make-up all over her face and the blood on her cheeks she looked so terrible it made Lenny’s heart ache. “You think you can get my Ryan back? Really?”

“I think I have an idea how to do that, yeah. I’m just going to call some friends and see what I can do.”

“Thank you… I’m really not a bad person, I hope you can understand that.”

“I try not to judge,” Lenny said. “Tell me more about that dealer of yours.”

“His name is Anthony Roth. He’s one of the biggest coke dealers of San Diego. He’s got a bunch of three henchmen doing his dirty work.”

“Can you reach him?”

“Yeah, I have his number. For when I get the money together.”

“Good. I will call some friends. Then you call him, set up a meeting with him. Tell him you want to exchange the money for Ryan,” Lenny said.

“What do you have planned?”

“I’m not exactly sure yet, but I’m sure together with my friends I’ll come up with something. We’ll get you your kid back. Whatever it takes.” Lenny thought he almost sounded like a real hero. Too bad he wasn’t so sure about his success as he made her believe. Still, he felt he had to try.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Honky Tonk Big Hoss Boogie (Nashville PI series / Auggie Velez) by Robert J. Randisi

Robert J. Randisi is of course a real pro when it comes to PI fiction. He wrote a lot of PI stories and series in the past (like the Miles Jacoby books) and even served as president of the Private Eye Writers of America. So, it should come as no surprise he hands in a solid little story here.
In nicely paced short chapters we are introduced to Auggie Velez, a session guitarplayer in Nashville who is also a PI. He reminds me just a little bit of my own roadie/bassplayer/PI Lenny Parker in that regard. Auggie is hired by a record producer to deliver a suitcase. When the recipient of the suitcase is murdered Auggie sets out to find the killer.
What makes this story great is that Auggie really feels like a real person, not a two-dimensional action hero. I was just a bit sorry he’s a war veteran as I thought his charm is that he doesn’t seem like a real tough guy. Also, the whole Nashville music setting is interesting and the writing very tight.