A collection of 18 previously published short stories—and, yes, Charlie Resnick fans, he turns up in five of them.
In “Billie’s Blues” and “The Sun, the Moon and the Stars,” Charlie tries to help out Eileen, a stripper turned whore turned witness to murder, with dour results. “Home” finds him dealing with a teen’s death and a brother’s revenge. In “Well, You Needn’t,” Charlie’s birthday begins with a break-in and ends with him and his cats listening to Thelonious Monk. Resnick makes a cameo appearance in “Trouble in Mind,” which features Harvey’s leading short-story protagonist, Jack Kiley, who, reading mystery writer K.C. Constantine, notes that Charlie looks like aging lawman Mario Balzic. Kiley, the former footballer and Met copper now eking out a living as a private eye, faces the usual Harvey suspects—druggies, delinquents and dames—with the gals usually in for a bad day. Frank Elder, who stars in three Harvey novels, loses his wife and begins his retirement in “Due North,” while Tom Whitemore, a minor character in one of the Elder books, faces his own marriage troubles in “Sack O’ Woe.” But perhaps the story to savor most is “Snow, Snow, Snow,” which marks the debut of Malkin, a hit man who metes out overdue justice.
Is there a better short-story writer around than Harvey? Probably not. His introduction not only provides a fine overview of his work but may send readers in search of James Crumley’s output.