PALE SHADOW: A Wesley Farrell Novel

Robert Skinner, Author
Robert Skinner, Author . Poisoned Pen $23.95 (227p) ISBN 978-1-890208-66-0
Reviewed on: 07/16/2001
Release date: 00/00/0000
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Gangsters are murdering each other throughout the town and over in the parishes in this entertaining retro hard-boiled novel set in New Orleans, September 1940, fifth in the series featuring nightclub owner Wesley Farrell. Farrell's old partner-in-crime, Luis Martinez, has stolen counterfeit plates for 20- and 50-dollar bills from "Spanish" Compasso, and Dixie Ray Chavez ("He expected people to die when he went to see them") has been hired to torture and kill until the plates are found. The growing body count soon brings in more sleuths, including Negro Detective Squad partners Israel Daggett and Sam Andrews, the FBI and the Treasury department. Skinner (Cat-Eyed Trouble; Blood to Drink) has done scholarly writing on Chester Himes, and uses his own turf in much the same way Himes used Harlem, delving into the overlapping relationships between the races, though less ink is spilt this time about Farrell having Creole blood and passing as white. But Skinner keeps up his references that make his hero sound like the Shadow (the mysterious Sparrow thinks Farrell is "as much a part of this strange city as the River"). The main characters, however, don't come to life as convincingly as do the casual players, such as the barkeep in the Fat Man Lounge or a woman with a voice "like honey seasoned with pepper." Still, this book ought to please readers with an affinity for the Big Easy and those who crave another hit of the hard-boiled. (Aug. 31)

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