I received a free review copy of Darkest Vow by J. Newman, looking forward to an entertaining tale from the noir-era of mysteries. A story of dissolute private detective Joseph Riley who is hired by a beautiful heiress, Alexis Santorum, to recover her kidnapped husband, it has all the elements of the ear of the 1940s tales of hardboiled private eyes who claw, punch, and drink their way to solutions of tough cases.
A fan of the genre, I was a bit disappointed by the way this story was handled. The prose was a bit too heavy-handed, and the errors that crept in (such as a ten-legged cricket) spoiled a story that could have been a great read. Newman has the potential to write stories in this genre that would really entertain, and bring back the golden era of gritty mystery fiction, if he’d eschew the overloaded – and sometimes distracting – descriptions. In this case, less would be more.
I give him full credit, though, for a good plot. Despite the purple prose which made reading difficult, he did a good job of keeping the reading guessing. I really wanted to give this story high marks, but unfortunately, the mechanical problems pull it down to just slightly below average. As much as I hate having to give anything less than three stars, I’m afraid this book is only two stars for me.