Friday, October 13, 2017

Invisible Dead (Dave Wakeland) by Sam Wiebe

For anyone thinking the USA is the only place where real good hardboiled private eyes are from... This one proves you wrong.
Dave Wakeland is an ex-cop and former boxer who runs  PI business in Vancouver with his partner Jeff Chen. Chen is the one with the business sense, Wakeland the one with a soft spot for lost causes and hard cases. Hired to look for a missing prostitute he gets involved with an old classmate who seems to have fallen from grace and clashes with a motorcycle gang.
Wakeland is partly the standard tough guy with some great oneliners, good with his fists and has a troubled past. What makes him more original is his involvement with a serious, bigger PI firm.
But hey, I don't read PI novels because I want the protagonist to be totally unique. I like the archetype, that's why I read them.
The story is dark, the social commentary never overblown but written with just the right amount of anger to make it work.
Definitely a new series I will be following.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What The Dead Leave Behind (Rush McKenzie) by David Housewright

As fans know Rush McKenzie isn't a PI because of the money. In fact, he isn't an official licensed one. He's an ex-cop now millionaire who sometimes does favors for friends which end up with him solving crimes. I'm a fan of this series and gladly review every book.
As always we slowly follow how he further deepens his relationship with his girlfriend and her daughter. In fact, the daughter is the reason he starts an investigation in an unsolved murder in this book. He ends up investigating corporate espionage and fraud and a different cold case.
After a few books that had Rush go undercover and a bit less traditional sleuthing it's nice to see him really investigate a murder cause again. I must say I had a bit of trouble keeping all the female characters apart that pop up in this one.  The way all kinds of secrets pop up seemed a bit overdone at times.
Mostly though I enjoyed the book, happy to ride along with one of my favorite PI's again. Never too dark but too hardboiled for a cozy by far a nice, enjoyable read.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Skull Meat: A Paignton Noir Mystery (Joe Rey) by Tom Leins

This is a pretty dark novelette. Joe Rey is a PI in Paignton who really is more of a thug / fixer. We follow him kicking the crap out of people and wielding a pigknife. There is no honest or nice person in the book and that includes Joe. The prose is very fast and to the point, which I absolutely loved. The violence plays out in your mind very vividly without spending a huge amount of description, not an easy feat.
I must admit I sometimes got lost in the plot, the chapters almost a series of short stories.
All in all I liked the writing style but wasn't 100% sure I liked the plot. Eager to read more though.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Down & Out: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 1 - edited by Rick Ollerman

Lately I've been reading a LOT of books from publisher Down & Out. They have been responsible for the return of old favorite PI's like Nick Polo and have been publishing work by favorite writers like Dana King, Steve Lauden and many others. When they announced a digest magazine I was excited as hell, especially once I learned one of my favorite writers (and nicest ones as well) Reed Farrel Coleman would be contributing an original Moe Prager story. But there's more goodness besides that!
The magazine starts out with a punchy Ron Shade tale by Michael Black. Ron Shade is a personal favorite of mine who I haven't seen in action for way too long so that was a treat right away.
Then editor Rick Ollerman serves up a PI tale with a surprising POV. Terrence McCauley writes a dark espionage tale . Eric Beetner writes a prequal of sorts to one of his crime novels while Thomas Pluck does what he does best with his dark crime story featuring everyday men. And of course Jen Conley shows that she can write really believable and moving characters with her story.
An article pays tribute to great pulp writer Frederick Nebel, reprinting one of his stories as well.
Those stories alone would make this a very good magazine. Add to this mix the dark and moving Moe Prager story that deals with concentration camp survivors and you just have the best crime fiction magazine since Black Mask.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Rafferty's Rules (Rafferty) by W. Glenn Duncan

This book was first published in the late eighties. Rafferty can be seen as a Texas version of Spenser. He's got a slightly psycho sidekick, a significant other who can be both cute and annoying, knows his wisecracks and has his own rules and sense of honor. As a huge fan of Spenser I don't see those things as bad. In fact, I cannot deny my own Noah Milano series owes a lot to Spenser.
With the news that the author's son will be writing a new Rafferty story it makes sense this series is reissued.
In this first book in the series Rafferty tracks down the biker gang that raped the daughter of a wealthy family.  What follows is not a challenging mystery nor a dark character study. What does follow is one heck of an action-packed and fun ride! I loved Rafferty's rules, his wisecracks, the great pacing and action scenes.
I will be reading the rest of the series for sure and very eagerly await Duncan Jr's first Rafferty novel