A D.C. private detective gets into all kinds of trouble trying to find a friend’s long-lost daughter.
Decades after his affair with Colette Andrews, a gorgeous young fan with whom he long ago lost touch, jazz musician Steps Jackson asks his pal Willis Gidney to find the daughter he never knew. Gidney, a part-time detective who works at a record warehouse, lucks into the name of the young woman—Bobbie—during his first random interview, but gaining traction in the search is another matter. His twisted trail includes, among other fictional D.C. locations, the Money Jungle toy store, the offices of Vital Records and the headquarters of right-wing politician Jason McHugh. When he finally meets Colette and brings up the subject of Bobbie, she threatens to call the police if he doesn’t leave. Shortly after, at a small jazz club called The Cove, he gets an unexpected phone call from Colette, who says she needs to see him. The call is interrupted by a pack of unseen thugs who attack Gidney from behind. He blacks out and wakes up a suspect in Colette’s murder, a fact that strains Gidney’s usually smooth relationship with Washington’s finest. Conducting a concurrent investigation threatens it even more.
Winner of the Private Eye Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel Competition, Kaufman’s debut feels a little slapdash but benefits from brisk development and a flattering, textured portrait of the nation’s capital. Wisecracking narrator Gidney is also an appealing spinner of yarns.