4 out of 4 stars
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They Do That for the Dead by Alan M. Blank is the sequel to Trouble in Bay Town, but it stands up perfectly well as an individual novel. Sonny Knight is a 1940s style gumshoe who operates in the modern world but refuses to use a computer and always ‘forgets’ to carry his cell phone. Nevertheless, he is remarkably successful and is used regularly by the police to help in their investigations.
Trent Simmons, an employee at Town Hall, is rushed to hospital after receiving a severe beating. When asked to identify his attacker, he points to the TV where Stelton Pike, the most influential man in Bay Town, is being interviewed. Later, Sonny is approached by Ruby Redstone who wants him to pull some strings so that she can gain access to her late brother’s safety deposit box. She is dressed in mourning, but her grief is belied by her bright-red shoes. Sonny smells a rat and is subsequently embroiled in murders and mysteries galore.
As well as being an exciting and well-written story, the book is further enhanced by the author’s sense of humour. Make sure you always read his disclaimers at the start, they are a hoot. Also, look out for nods to classic detective authors. Additionally, I love his Panama hat which is basically a fedora, à la Sam Spade, that is made out of straw.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first book but found it a little light on complexity. This book has upped the ante. The story is more convoluted and a little grittier than the first. Sonny is an all-round nice guy, devoted to his girlfriend, Brooke Lynne Lane, and to his secretary, Cookie, though in a different way. Nevertheless, he’s no wimp; he is a staunch defender of minorities and victims, and sometimes weighs in with his fists when the need is just.
There were some unexpected twists and a satisfying flourish at the end. My only criticism is that I found some of the clues to be rather obvious. I spent much of the book yelling the identity of the attacker and howling the location of the ill-gotten gains. Having said that, it’s not terribly important as there are plenty of other strings to this bow. Some crime books are like a plane journey where it’s simply a race to get to the destination. Blank’s books are more of a fairground ride where the best bit is in the middle where you loop the loop and do a face-plant into your ice cream. When you step off at the end, you immediately want to buy another ticket so you can get back on again.
The book is professionally edited and I found only one grammatical error; ‘slight of hand’ was used instead of ‘sleight of hand’. Altogether, I thoroughly recommend this book. It will be enjoyed by people who like the classic detectives and an easy to read, humorous page-turner. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
They Do That for the Dead
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