An ex-cop must confront his past when he moves into his late mother’s West Philly row home in Minotaur/PWA’s Best First Private Eye Novel of 2009.
First Lou Klein’s stepfather, the only father he ever knew, was killed handling a domestic dispute in Logan. Then his partner Sam Blackwell took himself out with his service revolver after a traffic accident ended his employment by the Philadelphia Police Department. Lou’s own 12-year career ended just as dramatically. Called by a neighbor who heard screams, he interrupted a pedophile mid-molestation with a swift crack to the skull that disabled the predator for life. The murder of his mother sent Lou into a self-imposed exile in the Poconos that ended only when his divorce made him crave something familiar. Now Blackwell’s widow Sarah offers familiarity at a price. She wants him to find her daughter Carol Ann, a 20-something runaway whose hobbies are dope and dating degenerates. The other obstacles include Sarah’s new husband Vince Trafficante, who owns the sleazy massage parlor where Carol last worked. Vince definitely doesn’t want Carol found and sends out his best goon Tommy Ahearn to reinforce the point. But Lou has some folks in his corner too: Lieutenant Kevin Mitchell, a police-academy buddy who now runs the 19th District, and his daughter Maggie, who defies her mom in order to come live with Lou, exposing his vulnerability as well as his strength.
Despite some awkward flashbacks, Gilman’s debut keeps the tension strong while showing that Philadelphia isn’t just about brotherly love.