Monday, October 14, 2019

The Headstone Detective Agency (John Headston) by Robert J. Randisi

Robert J. Randisi has done so much for the private eye novel heading up among other things the Private Eye Writers of America for some time. Aside from that he's written some pretty good PI series. After treating us to the Nashville PI series he's now back with a brand new series.
It features John Headston, a 50 year old PI who used to have big agency but is now back to a one man operation.
In this first novel Headston is hired to find a missing stockbroker by his wife. As these cases often turn out he is drawn into a murder investigation. During this investigation he gets a new employee, a young girl with tattoos more or less his own counterpart.
The best thing about this novel is the tight writing. Never do we get bogged down by too detailed descriptions of furniture, houses or the weather. Instead the plot is moved forward by dialogue and short scenes, just how I like it. Aside from that Headston starts out as pretty standard PI but we get to see deeper layers of his character as the story continued. And you will fall in love with his female sidekick Ally for sure.
Randisi shows off what experience can bring you in this very solid tale that is bound to be loved by all PI fans who want the good old stuff instead of the fancy thrillers like Robert Crais seems to be writing these days or the Reacher novels.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Free Fiction: Doggone Part Two (A Lenny Parker serial) by Jochem Vandersteen

Lenny Parker, PI / roadie / metalhead is back in a new serial, blending a bit of comedy with a hardboiled detective story, one feet into metal culture. This time he is hired to track down a missing dog. Read the first part here.


Lenny decided the best place to start the investigation was at Janson’s place. Specifically, the neighbors. Janson might have thought they hadn’t seen anything, but Lenny figured it couldn’t hurt to double-check. He parked his Dodge Ram in front of Janson’s place, ending the Destruction album he was playing when he turned  off the ignition. He left his car and knocked on the door of Janson’s left door neighbor. The blinds in front of the window told him this was probably the pot-smoker’s place.
There was no answer. He decided to knock a little bit harder. Still nothing. Of course, you don’t earn a living as a private eye if you’re detained by such a little thing. He walked over to the window and banged on that.
The door opened. A lanky, pimply kid with a mullet and a Kyuss T-shirt opened the door. Lenny had to admit he approved of the kid’s taste in bands. He wasn’t sure about the mullet though.
“What the fuck man? You startled the living shit out of me, dude!”
“Sorry about that. I really want to talk to you,” Lenny said, holding up his hands apogolepticaly.
The kid squinted. “About what?”
“Your neighbor’s dog.”
“What about that stupid mutt?”
“It’s missing. And dear to your neighbor.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Maybe we can talk about this inside?” Lenny suggested.
“Well, you sure as fuck don’t look like a narc. Come the fuck inside. Nice battle jacket, by the way.”
“Thanks. Sowed it myself,” Lenny beamed.
“Good for you.”
Lenny followed the kid inside his home. “What’s your name?”
Cliff’s place reeked of marihuana. It was also very dark inside, the only light coming from a weak table-lamp. The floor was littered with pizza boxes and empty cans of beer. Lenny recognized the band playing on the kid’s stereo as Monolord. Fine riffage.
Cliff dropped down on a ratty chair and pointed to an old crate for Lenny to sit on. Lenny slowly lowered his ass, not sure the crate would hold his considerable weight. It creaked, but didn’t break.
Cliff lit a joint. “You want a hit, dude?”
“No, thanks. Haven’t smoked one since high school.”
“Shit, really? Can’t miss it, dude. Not that I’m hooked or something, you know? I just like the fucking way it makes me feel. A beer then?”
“I’m fine, thanks.  So, can you please tell me if you saw how Mr. Janson’s dog got out of his yard two weeks ago?”
“How the fuck should I know? It’s not like I sit staring at his yard, you know. Good fucking riddance too, that dog. Sometimes that fucking creature barks so loud I can’t even hear my tunes.” Cliff blew a huge amount of smoke to the ceiling. It was as yellow as egg yolk.
“Come on, Cliff… That animal means a lot to the old man. Don’t be a dick. Anything you saw or heard might help.”
“Why the fuck are you asking these questions anyway? Who are you?” Paranoia had struck the stoner.
“I told you. I’m Lenny.”
“Yeah, but why are you off busting your ass for the old man? I know he ain’t got no son.”
“Mr. Janson hired me. I’m a private investigator.”
“What the fuck? In that outfit? I would never have figured you for one dressed like that!”
“We don’t all wear trench coats or Hawaii shirts, Cliff. Now please, humor me… Is there anything you can think of that might help me track down the dog?”
“Sorry, dude. Really don’t. Maybe the hot chick next door to the old man.”
“The nurse?”
“Yeah, Janice. She usually works nights, though. But she likes the old man. And the dog. So you never know.”
“Guess I will try that, then. Keep on rockin’. I’ll let myself out.” With those words Lenny left the place before he got high from second-hand smoke.


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Daughters and Sons (C.T. Ferguson) by Tom Fowler

A new C.T. Ferguson book is always sure to be an enjoyable read. In this one the hacker/PI is hired to protect a hooker from a stalker. It turns out she's not the usual kind of woman who ends up in this business as he uncovers some dirty family secrets.
There's another case waiting for him though as he discovers his sister's death was not natural. Seeking out her killer and swearing revenge he has to do his best to juggle both cases.
The fact this one is personal gives this entry in the series a nice extra edge. We also see C.T.'s relationship with his girlfriend Gloria deepen a bit more.
A nice, fast-paced read.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Under Water (Duck Darley) by Casey Barrett

I don't know how this one has managed to elude me for two years, but I'm glad I found it now! It's probably my favorite read of the year. Part of it comes from the gritty story itself, a lot of it comes from the protagonist, pill-popping, Bulleit-swilling, ex-swimmer Duck Darley.
Darley could have been a contender, as an Olympic swimmer. However, like his dad he ended up in jail. After taking some aikido lessons he hires himself out as a self-proclaimed finder. He's more just an unlicensed PI though, specializing in catching married men cheating on their wives. He's not above accomodating the clients with some revenge sex as a bonus. He drinks too much, swipes pills wherever he can find them... Yeah, he's an anti-hero I guess. He really cares about his dog and sidekick, Cassie though. Now don't think she the Joe Pike / Hawk sort of psycho sidekick. Nope, she's a dominatrix and sometimes the real brains of the outfit.
In his first book he is hired to track down the missing sister of a former teammate. When her ex is murdered she's painted by the media as a killer. Digging deeper and deeper he uncovers several dark secrets and ends up in lethal danger.
The "fun" here is in how Darley managed to continue the investigation while drugged and drunk. How he manages to fight off thugs. How he stays in character as an asshole but also as an underdog to root for.
Writer Casey Barrett chose to write what he knows in part as he used to be an Olympic swimmer himself. That angle is however not needed at all. The book is written well, the mystery interesting and the characters lively and original. Top notch.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Dead Man's Mistress (Rush McKenzie) by David Housewright

When some previously unknown paintings of a famous artist are stolen Rush McKenzie is asked to look for them. He ends up in a small town called Grand Marais and discovers a dead body. Tangling with some people who want to stop him from investigating and being hampered as much as well as helped by a young reporter the unofficial private eye is on one hell of a case again.
I always like McKenzie in every tale he's in. It's like meeting up with an old friend in every novel. I have to admit though this particular story was a bit dull at some times. It could have done with some more twists and turns or a higher degree of danger. Decent, but there have been better in this series.