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!
Jul 302014
 
Stanley Bentworth calls himself a softboiled detective and he kind of has the name to go along with it. He always intends to stop smoking, drinking or sleeping with a woman who uses him for rebound sex. I was expecting a character along the likes of Stanley Hastings (by Parnell Hall) or even Lenny Parker (my own PI who appears in The Shamus Sampler II), but in all honesty I thought Bentworth was pretty hardboiled. He's not a bumbling amateur but an ex-cop fired because of excessive violence. In this book he smacks someone around with a shotgun and he can act pretty tough. Still, he can use the help of Sanford, a hitman who is a cool sidekick.
Anyway, in this book he is hired to find out who is blackmailing a guy who's in the Witness Protection Program and has to take care of a stalker who's also with Military Intelligence. Along for the ride is a hacker kid who wants to become a PI as well. I'm afraid I don't like hacker characters that much in PI stories, they remind me too much of the sci-fi kind of hackers in TV shows like Criminal Minds or Arrow, being used as deus ex-machina a bit too much. I do have to admit he's a funny character, though.
I really loved the witty voice of Bentworth and the pacing was good, the book not too long and the mystery satisfying. So, although it's not what I expected it to be, I liked it and hope to read more in this series.
Jul 302014
 
Jules Landau is a college man with a family that has been doing things on the shady side who now makes a living as a PI. In his first story his father hires him to find out who killed the family's best friend.
Among the characters he meets during his investigation are crooked cops and a kinky tattoo artist.
I really liked the laidback and relatable vibe of Jules' voice, like a less witty Elvis Cole. The mystery has a nice amount of twists and turns and the story is very decidedly set in modern day Chicago.
I think this books was originally selfpublished before it was picked up by Random House's Alibi imprint. Although I really liked the book I'm a bit surprised by that fact because it really isn't that much more than a standard PI book and I didn't think the bigger publishers still liked that. Well, if they do, I guess that is pretty good news.
Jul 152014
 
Junior Bender, burglar and PI of the criminals is back... And this time it's personal. When he's asked by Wattles, a criminal who sets up hits, to find out who broke into his home he ends up discovering the dead body of his old mentor, Herbie. Of course, Junior sets out to avenge his death.
Along the way he meets a colorful cast of criminals among which some great female criminals who are attractive and strong.
There's laughs, but don't be mistaken... This is no cozy! The deaths are violent, most of the plot is pretty dark.
As always I enjoyed hanging out with Junior, he's got a very engaging voice and really brings the reader right into the story. It was interesting to find out a bit more about Junior's past, finding out how he became the man he now is.

Jul 082014
 
I was very sad to see the Burke series end, but was confident Andrew Vachss would still give me the best entertainment and food for thought in fiction with his new Cross series. That series doesn't beat this new series featuring ex-Legionnare Dell though. With this guy and his love, former Médecins Sans Frontières nurse Dolly Mr. Vachss has found the perfect guides into the world of sexual violence and the advocates for justice for the abused, just like Burke and his crew were.
When a teenage girl shoots a fellow student in the hallway people try to compare it to Columbine. The girl's not talking at first, but Dell sets out to investigate her reasons for shooting the student and discovers their hometown has a dark secret.
This story is a perfect combination of court room drama and vigilante justice as Dell enlists the aid of a lawyer and a really cool and original forensic psychologist to find out the truth.
Great, dark and chilling hardboiled prose, the best dialogue Vachss has written so far and a lot to think about.
A winner.
Jun 182014
 
There's an original twist here... The main character is not a PI although he is certainly a tough guy. In fact, he's
part criminal, part hero. Ex-cop Bruno Johnson has set up an underground railway-system for abused / neglected kids together with his girlfriend and his dad. To finance this he sometimes does jobs for a criminal.
When a cop he used to work with bullies him into going after a high-profile pyromaniac / killer his life becomes even more complicated.
The writing style reminded me a bit of Walter Mosley at times, especially his newer series work.
The author has been involved with law enforcement most of his life what gives this book an extra realistic edge. I hope most of the people Mr. Putnam had to work with were a bit nicer than the cops introduced here, though.
While the plot might have been a bit tighter or more logical at times the realism and original subject matter still makes this book a winner.
Jun 032014
 
It's so good to have someone in your life you can depend on. McKenzie is one of those guys for me, even if he is fictional. Every year there's an entertaining new novel coming out that never lets me down.
In this one the cop-turned-millionaire-adventurer is asked by the daughter of an old enemy to track down her missing lover. It turns out this lover might not be who he said he was and soon McKenzie is involved with a psycho badguy, the FBI and Mexican Mafia.
Besides this main plot we see how the relationship between McKenzie and his spunky lover Nina contintues in what might be the best relationship in a PI novel since Spenser & Susan.
I read this one in no time. David doesn't exactly leave out the parts people skip like Elmore Leonard but has a fun, easy to read style that has you turning the pages quickly and the tone is so perfectly mixed between light and dark you are always in the mood for more.
Looking forward to the next one next year.
May 282014
 
VI Warshawski for the new millenium... That's how you could describe Fina Ludlow. She's the black sheep of a family of wealthy lawyers. She isn't afraid of some casual sex (with a fuckbuddy / massage therapist) or threatening people with a gun. In fact, she's a pretty tough cookie although she does get beaten up several times in this novel.
She investigates the disappearance of her sister-in-law and discovers some dirty secrets of her brother and his daughter. Secrets involving high-class callgirls and gangsters.
I liked Fina. She's a spunky girl and certainly hardboiled without becoming a man with boobs. I liked the story in general but thought the novel might have benefited from cutting some scenes. The plot just doesn't seem to ask for more than 400 pages. At 300 it might have been better paced.