Books by Neil Albert

TANGLED JUNE by Neil Albert
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 1, 1997

Philadelphia shamus Dave Garrett gets a chance to exercise his practiced sensitivity on himself when his office assistant, Lisa Wilson, digs far enough into his past to figure out that he's not who he thinks he is; certainly he's not his mother Barbara's son. Dave's so shocked by the news that Lisa, a transsexual with a long-standing crush on him, is almost convinced she's made a terrible mistake in opening this can of worms. But after a few deep breaths, they're ready to head out to California—where Barbara's sister Rachel Potok, who's been in a coma for untold years, is finally dying—and track down Dave's real parents. There seems to be even less plot than usual in Dave's understated, powerfully imagined cases (Appointment in May, 1996, etc.)—Dave and Lisa, speaking in alternating chapters, check birth records, interview likely (and dismayingly unlikely) maternal candidates, and take time out to attend Rachel's funeral and fall into bed together. Yet Albert, as ever, finds the embers that glow under these old coals: Dave confronts Barbara with his suspicions and realizes he can't face down her steadfast denials; Dave gets to meet the engaging psychiatrist who was, as he's now learned, Barbara's first husband; barely observant Dave worries that if his real mother wasn't Jewish, he isn't either. The result is a quietly moving tale likely to be especially welcome to readers who've followed Dave's fortunes ever since The January Corpse (1991). Read full book review >
APPOINTMENT IN MAY by Neil Albert
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 1, 1996

It looks as if p.i. Dave Garrett has taken on a routine job for suburban Pennsylvania attorney Charles Preston's Worker's Comp client Pat Winter: tail ailing Pat's estranged wife Maria to see whether her walking out on him involves stepping out with somebody else. And it isn't long before Dave (Cruel April, 1995, etc.) and his transsexual assistant Lisa Wilson link Maria to car salesman Tom Evans. But while he's being oh-so-careful to keep Maria from making her tail, he drops back far enough to let her die in a suspicious auto blaze. Accident or murder? Preston wants to know, so Dave circles Maria's pitifully few friends, asking the same old questions, like a buzzard sniffing, and eventually finding, rotten meat. Muddled detective work, but the powerful climax makes you realize how deeply Albert's burrowed into his sorry cast. Read full book review >
CRUEL APRIL by Neil Albert
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 10, 1995

Somewhere between Miami, where she called to let him know she was boarding the plane, and Philadelphia, where he waited in vain for her to get off, PI Dave Garrett's girlfriend Kate McMahan disappeared. Cold feet, says the local law; she probably just went back to her husband. But Frank McMahan, though he isn't exactly thrilled to hear from Dave, assures him that Kate hasn't returned. By now Dave has already gotten on the trail of a shady pair who may have lured Kate off the plane in Harrisburg, and he's off and running. And running...thanks to grit, fear, and an endless bottle of diet pills that keep him awake for three days and nights as he caroms from prostitutes in seedy Chester to drug-dealers outside suburban Selinsgrove to kidnappers who beat him, run him off the road, and frame him for the murders they leave in their wake—to cops who are eager to put him in the frame and lock him up till he dozes off. How bad does it get? ``In the last couple of days I'd hardly had any sleep,'' reflects Dave, ``except for the times I'd been knocked unconscious.'' A nonstop actioner whose breathless plot boldly finesses around the flaw in Dave's three previous adventures (Burning March, 1994, etc.)—their forgettable characters—by keeping Dave on the move past faces that flare up like match flames en route to a satisfyingly bittersweet ending. Albert's best book yet. Read full book review >
BURNING MARCH by Neil Albert
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: March 10, 1994

Disbarred Philadelphia lawyer-turned-p.i. Dave Garrett (The January Corpse, The February Trouble) responds to a call from Emily Voss, the bookkeeper at his old firm, to find that she's been burned to death in her apartment before she could tell him what the trouble was. Despite the Fire Marshal's lack of interest, Dave knows the fire was set, but who hired the matchlighters? The main suspects are Tom Richardson, Dave's old boss—and Emily's longtime lover and sole legatee—and the firm's lesser fry: Dave's old mentor, Vince DeAndrea, a trial lawyer prone to alcoholic blackouts; assistant managing partner Jerry Huyett, who doesn't mind firing people all that much; Roger Palmer, a labor lawyer with an attitude; Michael Flora, a new associate whose contracting links with certain New Jersey relatives make up for his lack of smarts; and wheelchair-bound Susan Minnik, whom Dave will shortly be taking a close personal interest in. Routine work for Dave, smartly told, with Philadelphia locations as memorable as the characters aren't. Read full book review >
THE FEBRUARY TROUBLE by Neil Albert
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 1, 1992

Dragged out of Philadelphia at 6 a.m. to investigate sabotage against Uncle Chan's, a new Chinese fast-food outlet in Amish country, Dave Garrett finds himself up to his neck in vipers. Somebody's laced the wonton soup with detergent; Anne Chadwick, tempestuous wife of workaholic Uncle Chan's franchiser Bruce Chadwick, is kidnapped from under Dave's nose; Anne's neighbor and friend Nancy Saunders is killed only a few hours after Dave's talked to her; a prompt ransom demand is almost surely a con. Meanwhile, Dave, with the help of Anne's iron- pumping cousin Kate McMahan, finds out that Chan's is laundering mob money, and that an unsavory visitor's recently been trying to persuade Anne that her long-missing daughter Amy is still alive. Who's behind it all? Or, really, who isn't? Solid medium-grade Ross Macdonald stuff, heartfelt and twisty—a handsome improvement over Dave's routine debut in The January Corpse (1991). Read full book review >
THE JANUARY CORPSE by Neil Albert
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 1, 1991

Disbarred attorney-turned-Pennsylvania p.i. Dave Garrett has only the weekend to prove that a man who disappeared seven years ago is dead so that the man's mom and sister Lisa can collect on his insurance policy. Was the vanished Danny Wilson murdered, and if so, by whom? His former law partner, Leo Strasnick, says their practice consisted mostly of civil cases, but then why is Garrett being tailed and warned off by mafia types? And what happened to the $100,000 Wilson had with him in his car? And was someone else with him? Abetted by the pretty but tough Lisa (she has no trouble shooting a thug, point-blank, in the foot as a warning), Garrett begins to suspect that Wilson's still alive. But then who died in that blood-splattered car? The unsurprising revelation may have readers flipping back a few pages and rereading Garrett and Lisa's romantic interlude—in disbelief. Workmanlike prose, routine beat-up-the-p.i. sequences, and a twist ending that fizzles. A disappointing debut. Read full book review >