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by T.W. Emory
Coffeetown Press, January 2018
235 pages
ISBN: 1603817522

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Set in 1950s Seattle, CRAZY RHYTHM is the second of the Gunnar Nilson Mysteries. Gunnar is a shamus who has recently solved his first crime and is waiting for more business when he discovers the body of a pre-war acquaintance, Rune Granholm. Gunnar was very fond of Rune's brother with whom he served in the war. He feels a sense of responsibility to follow up on the crime, even though Rune is a shady character, to say the least.

Then he receives a call from a lawyer looking to hire him. At their meeting he learns that Ethan Calmer's fiancée, Mercedes Atwood has been receiving threatening phone calls. Mercedes is the heir of a lumber Baron who was an eccentric world traveller and art curio buyer. Gunnar goes to investigate, meeting Miss Atwood, a cold and very controlled woman, who surprises him later with some uncharacteristic behavior.

Returning to his boarding house, Gunnar shares the situation so far with a motley group of boarders, including a WWI vet with a damaged face but a brilliant mind, his landlady, a retired fan dancer in burlesque, and her nephew, another WWII vet trying to make sense of post war Seattle.

As the plot thickens, the murder and the Calmer/Atwood case appear to be somehow connected and Gunnar and his pals must work through a large cast of characters to make sense of it all.

T. W. Emory emulates the noir novels of the 50s in his books – a cast of shady characters, a dark troubled city slowly recovering from war, a hero who treads the line between honorable and dishonorable behavior, especially when it comes to the women he encounters. He has very decided taste in women's breasts (not too big and not too small),) but always seems to prefer the girls to be "very pretty in a no-nonsense way." He admires the older women who have done something with their lives, whether as Rosie the Riveters or fan dancers. Most of the girls he meets are secretaries, of course - what else is there in his world?

Choosing to set his noir fiction in the 50s, its heyday, allows Emory to hark back to a world where men were men and girls were girls, a place that 50% of the population at least is extremely happy to have escaped. Emory and his character, Gunnar are good guys with hearts of gold. The crimes get solved and readers will be looking forward to what happens to Gunnar, his friends and girlfriends, and where his job will take him next.

§ Susan Hoover is a playwright, independent producer and retired college English teacher. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Reviewed by Susan Hoover, November 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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