FIRE LAKE by Jonathan Valin


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Case #7 for shamus Harry Stoner of Cincinnati--who is surprisingly poor company this time around, brooding and lamenting as he immerses himself in the enervating druggie-world, searching for an old pal who's hopelessly addicted. Former college roommate Lonnie Jackowski first turns up in Cincinnati as a failed suicide: Harry discovers the overdosed ex-rock-musician at a local motel and takes him in. But then Lonnie disappears. So Harry, joined by Lonnie's estranged wife Karen (with whom he begins a steamy affair), sets out to find Lonnie--especially after the manager of that motel is discovered brutally murdered: Lonnie, it seems clear, has gotten in over his head as a double-crossing drug-courier. Along the way, Harry is roughed up by both ugly drug-dealers and by a brutal cop (who's sure that Harry is himself a drug-dealer). But he persists nonetheless--eventually quizzing all of Lonnie's local contacts, finding another corpse, and unmasking the ruthless drug-ringleaders. Valin brings little that's distinctive to the overfamiliar world of sad addicts, scary enforcers, seedy dealers, and glossy masterminds; the plot--serviceable at best--is drawn out droningly. And narrator Harry himself appears here without his customary wry charm, earnestly belaboring his feelings about Lonnie, Karen, and the 1960's. So this is very disappointing work from a major talent (Final Notice, Life's Work), though heavy enough on sex-and-violence to hold some portion of the hard-boiled audience.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1987
Publisher: Delacorte