noir

Review of ‘Regan O’Reilly: Private Investigator’

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Although she comes from a family of cops, in 1942, the only police job open to Regan O’Reilly, or any other woman, is a desk job. So, instead, she becomes a private investigator. As a PI with her own agency, she’s pretty much free to live life on her own terms, until she meets an insurance adjudicator, Mark Harris, a widower with a young son, Patrick, both of whom stir feelings in Regan that she’d rather not have to deal with.

Regan O’Reilly: Private Investigator by Margaret Lake is an interesting novella, although, it’s a bit misnamed. Written in the noir mystery style of the 1940s, it’s an intriguing story, but, it’s a romance story, not really a mystery. Interesting characters, and relatively fast-paced action, it follows Regan as she strives to reconcile her work with her growing feelings for Mark and Patrick, ending on a somewhat unsettled note as she prepares to go off on a hazardous undercover assignment just as she’s about to come to terms with the growing personal relationship.

I’m still unsure about this series, but curious to see what’s next for the heroine. I’ll give this one a provisional four stars.

Review of ‘Falling Apart at the Edges’

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John Blake is a police detective with a special job – beyond his normal police work – a job he can’t even share with his partner, Eddie Kimball, or his wife, Suzy. He is also a man with demons. His relationship with his wife is troubled, and he can share his troubles with no one. When a hired killer, Cuba Davenport, is killed and mutilated, and the trail leads to mobster Joe Capelli, Blake must face his demons – or die trying.

Falling Apart at the Edges by Maynard Sims takes the reader into the mean streets and the tortured minds of a group of characters with shady pasts and uncertain futures. The dialogue, though a bit stilted in places, is pithy and the settings are as grimy as one would expect from a noir mystery. I received a free review copy of this book.

Though well told, the book could benefit from a better editing job. Some of the grammar mistakes cause a reader to pause and re-read to make sure of the meaning of the passage. Despite the errors, it is still a fun read for fans of the genre. I give this book three stars.

Review of ‘Darkest Vow’

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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.