The winner of St. Martin’s 2003 Prize for Best First P.I. Novel presents a Cleveland shamus who falls afoul of Russian mobsters—and for his beautiful client
Against the better judgment of his partner Joe Pritchard, novice gumshoe/narrator Lincoln Perry accepts a retainer from wealthy industrialist John Weston to find his missing daughter-in-law Julie and granddaughter Betsy. Weston’s son Wayne made headlines when he was found shot dead. The smart money says that Wayne, a Pinkerton investigator, killed Julie and Betsy before turning the gun on himself. Dad can’t believe it, and the bodies of the two females haven’t been discovered. Ex-cops Perry and Joe’s fledgling agency can’t afford to turn down the work. Reporter pal Amy Ambrose helps fill in the background, but when she follows up a lead, she’s threatened by a group of Russian-American thugs, headed by imperious kingpin Dainius Belov, who destroy her car. The investigative trail leads through a shady businessman named Jeremiah Hubbard and Wayne’s partner Aaron Kincaid to sometime thug Randy Hartwick, who dates back to Wayne’s days as a Marine. During Perry’s meeting with Hartwick, a sniper ends the subject’s checkered career with a fatal bullet. In Myrtle Beach, Perry finds Betsy and Julie, whose beauty and vulnerability captivate him. But his satisfaction is cut short by the news that the Russians are headed south in pursuit.
A gracefully written, straight-ahead detective story with a welcome 11th-hour surprise.