Oct 112014
 
I am a big fan of Reed Farrel Coleman's work. I am also a big fan of Robert B. Parker's work. So I figured Parker's characters in Coleman's hands should be a match made in heaven. Turns out I was right. So, after Michael Brandman now Mr. Colleman chronicles the story of Jesse Stone.
Reed seems to "get" Jesse Stone even better than Parker himself if that's even possible. By that I mean the character really, really came to life for me. The time Reed spend researching about the character to write an essay in the non-fiction "In Pursuit Of Spenser" pays off here.
When a young woman is murdered in Paradise police chief Jesse Stone finds a connection to his old baseball team. Falling in love with a pretty undercover Special Agent, saving damsels in distress from bikers, battling against the bottle all keep him pretty busy. In the end though, Jesse solves the case... Kind of.
Aside from great work on Parker's characters Coleman introduces a few great ones of his own creation, like the thug-in-love Breen. These characters are just as fascinating as Parker's.
Oct 082014
 
When you hear the main sleuth is a pastor you might think this is a cozy. Wrong! Pastor Jonah Borden is absolutely a Son of Spade. Just read the chapter where he takes on 3 tough guys in prison.
When a member of his church is arrested as a suspect in a vigilante killing Borden investigates. He learns, from the man's confession that he cannot be the killer. Bound by his oath he cannot tell the cops the man's secrets though, so he continues the investigation on his own, getting involved with a beautiful TV reporter.
I loved Borden's witty dialogue and Hilperts writing style. It reminded me of Robert B. Parker in his best days. The pacing was good, the characters cool, the action hardboiled. Everything I want in a crime novel. A winner!
Oct 082014
 
When the family of a 14-year old is slaughtered she and her boyfriend both confess. PI Lena Jones is hired by her the girl's biological mother to prove her innocense. Soon there's someone after Lena, going so far as torching her house.
Lena investigates the secrets of the girl's family, meeting a lot of suspects and finding out what a peculiar man the girl's father was.
Lena is a pretty lively character and the Arizona setting is brought to life very well. The mystery itself is pretty satisfying, and there's a nice amount of twists. I did however think the pacing was a bit slow, the book could have done with 50 pages less for me.
All in all, solid enough for fans of female PI's.
Sep 242014
 
This is a Ludlum action-adventure spy novel disguised as a PI novel... Think Barry Eisler, Eric Van Lustbader, Lee Child...
Jim Brodie is an antique dealer in San Fransisco who als inherited his dad's security firm based in Japan. He also consults for the local cops on matters Asian and antique.
When an entire family is slaughtered in the San Fran neigborhood called Japantown the cops ask him to show up because there's a mysterious Japanese character painted there. Brodie is more than interested because the last time he saw that character it was at the scene of his wife's death.
As he investigates he travels to New York and to Japan where he joins the guys from his dad's firm to find out who is behind the murders. What he encounters is an ancient and very dangerous group of assassins that endanger not only his life but that of his daughter as well.
There's a lot of mysterious ancient Japanese secrets and societies, martials arts and conspiracy stuff. Basically, the scale is a bit bigger and international than I usually like, but Brodie is a capable leading man and the story very well researched.
Read it if you're a fan of the authors mentioned at the beginning.

Sep 092014
 
The swansong of Moe Prager is here...
His bad luck never ends, after surviving a battle with cancer his girlfriend Pam is killed in an accident, sending Prager on a bender, crawling into the bottle to hide from his pain. Then a woman from his past shows up, asking him to track down her missing daughter, who used to be some kind of internet hype. Prager walks the streets of New York city, trying to find out where she is, encountering all sorts of people who loved and hated her. Finally, the stakes are raised when he has to race against a ticking clock, trying to save the girl where the FBI is failing.
This is a tragic book. You have to feel for Prager for who life is always so unfair. There's people who lose their soul when they try to improve their outer looks. There's guys getting paid for sex by lonely people. And there's madness of internet hypes.
In the end though, there seems to be some kind of happy end for Prager in sight. The only sad thing about that of course, is that we won't be seeing him around anymore. Luckily, by now we now we can look forward to more of Reed Coleman's hardboiled but poetic writing with a new series coming soon and the Jesse Stone series he's taking over.
Sep 092014
 
Daniel Rinaldi is a more two-fisted version of Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware and is a bit more of a Son of Spade because of that.
In this novel the psychologist and police consultant / ex-boxer gets involved with a kidnapping case when one of this patients is snatched from his office. The patient is an ex model and B-movie star, married to a guy who can really spare the ransom money. Time and time again the kidnappers manage to get Rinaldi involved with the case, resulting in some plot points that belong in a Hollywood movie but at times seem a bit too comic book like for a mystery like this one. In fact, this is absolutely more of a thriller than previous books in this series which made me like it less, but might appeal to a whole new group of readers.
Aug 262014
 
I bought this one years ago and finally got around to reading it... I got the original paperback copy but it is available for Kindle now as well.
Thomas Black is hired to find the son of an old racist who has inherited a lot of money. It is obvious the father is more interested in the money than the kid. Thomas discovers the son had a relationship with a beautiful black woman and had been living among the homeless for a long time.
As he delves deeper into the young man's life he encounters some dangerous people that want the money and gets closer to his friend, Kathy.
An enjoyable, well write, slightly standard PI novel. It was first published in 1985, a time where a lot of good PI novels were published. What makes this one rise out above the competition is the many interesting characters that are far from the usual stereotypes we often meet in these kind of books.

Aug 192014
 
Tom Lowe's Sean O'Brien goes Jack Reacher style in this one. It shows how versatile a character O'Brien is, working in more standard PI mysteries as well as more thriller oriented stories as this one. That's because he's got a background as a cop AND a Special Forces guy, so he's got the skills to investigate a murder AND fight terrorists.
During a fishing trip O'Brien discovers a downed submarine and material for a dirty bomb. When it becomes national news he's contacted by the granddaughter of a man who got killed sixty-seven years ago. It turns out the submarine and the murder are connected. O'Brien has to fight Russian mobsters and terrorists for the uranium and uncover the mystery behind the 67 year old murder, dealing with all kinds of agencies.
There's a lot of action in this book. I usually have a hard time with big budget action flicks style action in books because they're hard to read, but Tom pulls it of.
Looking forward to more of O'Brien, in many ways the ultimate series protagonist. He's got everything a hardboiled hero needs.
Aug 052014
 
Kai Cooke is a pretty laidback PI in the Hawaiian islands who's also known as the Surfing Detective because he loves spending time on the board. When he's hired by a wealthy guy to track down his dog he's intrigued that his client's wife is also missing.
During his investigation he enlists the aid of an old friend, who is an actual pet detective, but a hell of a lot tougher than Ace Ventura. Together they search for the dog and uncover the secrets of Cooke's client and encounter how cruel man can be to animal.
On the private side Kai is dating a married woman and he's not sure how he feels about that, maybe his old friend the pet detective is a better match for him?
I thought the start was a bit slow, but in the second half of the novel the pace picks up pretty good. Kai is a relaxed and nice guy in the Elvis Cole / Rush McKenzie mold that I like so much. I was also intrigued by his relationship with a married woman, something the nicer PI's usually aren't involved with.
I also noted that there was some violence in the book but it was never described in bone-crunching detail which makes this book lean a bit towards softboiled, and will make it a great read for cozy lovers as well as the hardboiled fan.

Jul 302014
 
With every book in this series Ace Atkins makes me a bit less sad he isn't writing the Nick Travers series anymore...
Ex-Ranger and sheriff Quinn Colson polices Tibbehah County and sets out to track down a child-traficking woman through her daughter. There's also a gun smuggling ring to round up and he's aided by FBI Agent Dinah Brand for that one. An attractive young woman (she really came to live for me through the great writing), Quinn ends up sleeping with her, to the dismay of his deputy Lillie (one of the strongest female characters I've read the last couple of years). Involved in the gunrunning is Quinn's old pal, ex-Army man Donnie Varner which shows you the road Quinn might have taken if the Army didn't push him in the right direction.
There's also some flashbacks to some of the darker moments of Quinn's youth, some personal trouble with his sister and his family as well.
All in all, there's a lot going on in this book. Enough for the actual investigating to take a backseat to the goings-on of the characters involved in the story which gives it a little literary band. Don't think it ever gets pretentious though, compare it more to James Lee Burke's stuff. There's enough action and hardboiled stuff for every crime reader.
I loved the whole Southern atmosphere of the book, really feeling I was transported over there. And hey, you got to love Quinn who says he needs nothing besides coffee, whiskey and books. I can relate to that!