Dan Vining, Author . Jove $7.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-515-13719-4

In the first entry in what will hopefully be a long-running series, first-time author Vining successfully weaves together two very different stories. The first concerns a decades-old murder case that the ominous and cool detective Jimmy Miles is hired to re-open. The second revolves around the fact that Jimmy Miles is dead—a sort of undead Spenser. He walks among the beautiful people of Los Angeles, seemingly one of them, with only the occasional stranger picking up his true nature. He is in fact part of a much larger group, the Sailors, people who have died but are "here, in the flesh... with us... this second version of yourself." Not all Sailors are good guys, of course; some of them, the Walkers, are downright sinister. This makes a terrific setting for a stylish mystery, and the fact that the supernatural elements blend so well with that mystery is to Vining's credit. The pace is as laid-back as Miles himself, and Vining's neo-noir prose sports a refreshing 21st-century hipness that owes nothing to Chandler and Hammett (trees are "gnarled, arthritic, almost bare but still alive," and the femme fatale's lipstick is "some shade of fifties red, edged in black in a way you couldn't exactly see when you looked for it"). (June)

Reviewed on: 05/03/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
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