A dozen stories, mostly reprints from 1988–2001, show that an expert private-eye writer doesn’t need a whole novel to get tough.
Schutz isn’t always tough. “The State versus Adam Shelley,” which treats a modern Frankenstein’s monster as a clinical problem for the justice system, pays for its sensitivity by pulling punches. And the Philip Marlowe pastiche “The Black-Eyed Blonde” seems miles from both Chandler’s knight-errant and the author’s own no-nonsense working stiffs. But Schutz hits his stride when his investigators’ work brings them into contact with high-power lines even though they haven’t set their sights higher than making a living. “Whatever It Takes” may be a routine case for young Matt and Sean Ellis, process servers searching for a guy who wants to persuade them to walk away, but its sequel “Til Death Do Us Part,” the one new story here, offers an unexpectedly barbed answer to why a Boston blueblood has run off to Provincetown to marry another man. Forensic psychologists Ransom Triplett and Matthias Waldman pack double doses of detection and menace into “Not Enough Monkeys” and “Expert Opinion.” Best of all are three tales starring shamus Leo Haggerty (Mexico Is Forever, 1994, etc.), including the pitch-perfect title story, whose grim payoff is strictly business.
For dessert, Schutz serves up “Meeting of the Minds,” a memorable cat-and-mouse tale that sucks you in with the same cool professionalism as its serial killer.