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by Michael Koryta
Hodder & Stoughton, May 2012
292 pages
7.99 GBP
ISBN: 1444713930

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Disgraced ex-cop Lincoln Perry follows in the tradition started by private investigator Sam Spade. Perry, together with his partner, Joe Pritchard, cuts through crime in Cleveland almost as fast as Michael Koryta racks up literary awards. All the classic ingredients are here: fast, believable dialogue, plenty of action and, of course, a dalliance with a beautiful dame. Koryta's novels, including the Perry series, have been translated into twenty languages and his crime/supernatural crossover books have a cult following. This was his debut novel, now republished by Hodder, containing good pacing, well-drawn characters, some believable and offbeat humour amid solid prose, a decent sense of place, and sound plotting.

Investigator Wayne Weston is found dead - an apparent suicide - in his home in an up-market Cleveland suburb. His wife and six-year-old daughter are missing. Weston's father hires PIs Perry and Pritchard to prove his son was killed and find his granddaughter and her mother. They soon realise there is much more than appears in initial police reports. Rumours of gambling debts, extortion and a link to Russian organized crime raise the pace and the stakes. They are warned off by a multi-millionaire businessman and the FBI, then the killing of a possible ally, one of Weston's former friends, forces them to change direction. Perry travels to a South Carolina resort town where the whole case becomes a great deal more personal.

Although there are some violent scenes, Koryta doesn't fall into the shock, horror trap with lurid descriptions to spoil a solid and entertaining read that has plenty of twists and a steady build-up of tension. This is a competent, well-crafted story, strongly and simply told through a first person narrative with a deceptively easy-going manner, although aspiring detectives will no doubt spot the fact that part of the ending is signposted quite a long way in advance.

A little softer than Spade, a shade more moral than Marlowe, Lincoln Perry is a thoroughly modern investigator fit to stand with the best of the past and set the standard for the future. A must read for PI genre fans and a great one for those who like a well-written action mystery.

John Cleal is a former soldier and journalist with an interest in medieval history. He divides his time between France and England.

Reviewed by John Cleal, October 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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