James Arklow is a former detective turned college lecturer turned mystery writer who just wants to make a living writing his mysteries and leave his old life behind. After a book signing in his home town of Cincinnati, he is followed home by Dan Maple, who offers him a princely sum ($100K down and another $100K upon successful completion) to find a missing veteran, Thaddeus Smith, and get a sample of his blood. Arklow demurs at first, but money speaks loud, and the case is compelling, for Smith, a dope-using GI veteran of the war in Afghanistan is now ‘dope’ himself, or at least his blood is.
Flash Blood by Joseph Hirsch is a riveting thriller that follows Arklow from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh to Las Vegas as, with the help of convicted hacker Eric Underwood and PI wannabe James Bender, he tracks down the elusive Thad Smith. You’ll be transfixed as Arklow deals with the lowest from the mean streets to high-rolling low-lifes. The dialogue cracks with tension and credibility, and the background is painted in true, gritty colors.
You’ll not want to read this book if you have a sensitive nature – it’s just that gutsy – or if you don’t have time to finish it in one sitting. I received a free review copy and spent much of a rainy Sunday afternoon engrossed in it. Hirsch has carved out a new niche in the PI genre, giving us a protagonist that occupies a slot all hisown. Don’t miss this book.
I give it four stars for a great read.
James Gallowbread sat out the Civil War as a guest in Lafayette Prison. Freed after serving an extra month of his seven-year sentence due to a contagious illness, he is thirty-two years old and knows no real trade – other than the illegal kind.
I’m not only a fan of the western genre, but write it as well, so I was more than pleased to receive a free review copy of Orphan Elixir by Joseph Hirsch. Hirsch tells the tale in the first person, in the style of fiction of the immediate post-Civil War era, and pulls it off extremely well. The reader can see, hear, smell, and feel the setting and people of Gallowbread’s world as seen through his jaundiced eyes.
Not at first a truly sympathetic character, as we get to know Gallowbread more, he becomes real, and not at all a totally bad sort. Hirsch gets points for his ability to take a flawed character and show what made him thus. He also effectively merges humor and pathos in a tale that you’ll find hard to put down until you reach the end.
My hat’s off to a western author to be looked out for. Four stars to Hirsch for Orphan Elixir.