Monday, October 4, 2021

Strait Over Tackle (Flip-Flop Detective/Sam Strait) by Colin Conway


You might know the author of the 509 Crime Stories and the co-author of the Charlie-316 series already. This is his PI style series.

Former deputy Sam Strait has been snowbirding and comes back home to discover a dead body in his home. He decides to investigate himself and ends up getting involved with a tough female bodybuilder, several thugs and more.

Sam is a fun character. He might be an ex-cop, he's not the tough guy you might expect. His fighting prowess puts him pretty much into cozy territory. He's also really more of an amateur sleuth than an unlicensed PI type. His rules of living are amusing, one of which is to never go where he cannot wear flip-flops, hence the title of the series.

The story has some nice pacing. Not too fast, not to slow. It feels like an entertaining stroll hand in hand with Sam. There seem to be a few somewhat open plot points in here, but overall a nice story.

Will be back for more.

Friday, August 27, 2021

White Lines (John Tyler) by Tom Fowler

 Former Spec Ops veteran John Tyler is working as a mechanic. When a woman brings in her Porsche but never returns to it he starts to investigate. Soon he is clashing with a drug cartel who decide to get him out of the way. Together with his old Army buddy and hacker/PI C.T. Ferguson (of Tom Fowler's other series) he takes the fight to the bad guys. There's also a subplot where his ex-wife is trying to scam him and his daughter. 

The John Tyler series is different from the C.T. Ferguson books in the way these are action thrillers, not detective stories. Mr. Fowler is really good at writing fast-paced action and he shows that off here as well. The dead bodies pile up, things go boom and gunfire rattles. It can become a bit repetitive at times though and reminded me a lot of the first book in this series.

Nice book for folks who think the Jack Reacher books can get too slow. I do hope the next one has a bit more beat to it's bones, story-wise.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Hallmarks Of The Job / Aloha Boys: A P.I. Tales Double Feature (Stanley Melvin / Morriss Ronald Boyett) by Frank Zafiro / Michael Bracken


I saw love this idea of combining two PI novellas in one book. I loved the first one and the second one turned out to be pretty awesome as well.

In Frank Zafiro's Hallmarks of the Job,we meet PI Stanley Melvin. He's no superheroic or tough Spenser. But when he gets involved in a routine case his neigbor points out the case is full of hardboiled detective novel tropes. He will need to toughen up a bit! It is a pretty quirky and fun story. I really could identify with Stanley and the plot was really inventive.

In Michael Bracken's Aloha Boys, we read about Private investigator Morris Ronald “Moe Ron” Boyette who lives above a tattoo place. A homeless woman hires him to find her missing half-brother. He gets involved with some dirty secrets of a University. Bracken's prose is effective as always. The plot is neatly tied up and there is not an unnecessary word. Bracken's huge experience in short stories pays off in this longer format.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

First Shot (Grant Fletcher) by John Ryder

 It is pretty obvious Lee Child's Jack Reacher was a big influence on this one. Ex-military loner with good detective skills shows up in a small town to deal justice. I guess that is starting to become a genre of it's own. So, this might be seen as a Son of Reacher instead of Son of Spade.

Anyway, the story is about the mentioned military loner called Grant Fletcher. He is enlisted by an old army mate to investigate the disappearance of his daughter. He encounters some unfriendly citizens as well as a smart and attractive FBI agent.

Fletcher as a character isn't that unique at a first glance. However, he has an interesting traumatic backstory which both adds extra spice to the story as well as the character. The fact he's a father adds something to his character as well.

The FBI agent, Zoey Quadrado, is a pretty well-rounded and strong female protagonist. It looks like she will be a series regular. That could be interesting and take away Fletcher out of standard Reacher territory.

There's a lot of action scenes in here, which seem to be taken right out of an action movie. These, together with the story behind Fletcher's trauma are definitely the strongest points of the story. The main investigation was a bit thin and could have used some surprises.

I like the setup at the end where we get a hint at how Fletcher and Quadrado will get into new trouble.

All in all, not a bad new series for those who can't get enough of Reacher and want just a little extra spice to the formula.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Romeo's Rules (Mike Romeo) by James Scott Bell

 Ex-cage fighter Mike Romeo helps out a woman with missing kids after rescuing her from an exploding church. He ends up getting caught and tortured. Luckily, after some time with a PI and fighting in cages he has the skills to strike back. And there's that ex-Mossad sidekick to help him out.

Lots of the story is a pretty straightforward hardboiled thriller. Some fights, some investigations, some twists. Mike is a wisecracking tough guy like Spenser or Elvis Cole. However, he is even more intellectual than Spenser is. As a kid, he read a lot of books and he still continues to do so. The result is that Mike gets in some pretty nice oneliners and deep thoughts. That makes him pretty unique, but also, to some readers annoying. I really liked it though. There's also his dark past that is slowly uncovered that makes Mike an interesting character.

As a writer of several writing instruction books it is no surprise Mr. Bell keeps the story moving, the dialogue fast and natural and the descriptions brief enough not to bore. All in all, good writing, enjoyable character. I will be back for more.