A mortally stricken PI struggles to help a poor little rich boy in this bleak debut.
A dwindling bank account, a blank job log, a lonely apartment in Darlington, Conn., and a diagnosis of esophageal cancer with a 20 percent survival rate don’t exactly encourage Max Tyger to get out of bed in the morning. Nor does his cop girlfriend, Helen Baxter, who recently threw him out of her condo. But at least she proves she doesn’t hate him when she hands him a case. Margaret Harrington, a private school teacher, is worried about one of her students, Tommy Lewis, whose father owns New England’s last working textile mill. Margaret arranged for Tommy’s transfer to an artists’ retreat in West Texas, and now he may be missing. Even after Tommy resurfaces, no thanks to Max’s well-intentioned but ineffectual efforts, the boy makes it clear that he doesn’t want to go back to his parents’ Tudor mansion. Tommy’s plight, Helen’s support and a supposedly accidental death distract Max from his grueling cancer treatment and deteriorating physical condition. His championing of Tommy is admirable, but much as Max claims to reject people’s pity, he seems to invite it—and the reader’s guilty impatience as well.
Focusing more or less equally on cancer and crime, Delaney evokes an atmosphere as wintry as that of the New England mill town where the dying hero tries to win back his soul.