PRIVATE HEAT: An Art Hardin Mystery

Robert E. Bailey, Author . M. Evans $21.95 (301p) ISBN 978-0-87131-970-8

While this debut novel, winner of the First Coast Writers Festival's Josiah W. Bancroft Jr. Award, has its faults, it deserves praise for sheer action and suspense. PI Hardin, a retired counter intelligence officer, is asked by a prominent Grand Rapids, Mich., lawyer to protect his niece from her estranged police officer husband, who is likely to beat her up on sight. The husband turns out to be the least of Hardin's worries, as the plot immediately becomes increasingly violent and complex, requiring one to pay close attention to who did what to whom and why or be lost forever. Bailey has a good sassy sense of humor. He also has a peculiar vernacular of his own. For instance, in a scene in which two characters smoke, the author writes, "He started plumbing his costume for a cigarette." Plumbing? His "costume" is a pair of overalls. A few lines later: "I took a long pull on my smoke, extracted it from my face, and looked out over the river." Now, for a bit of local color: "Popsicle sticks weathered to gray and the silver pull tabs from beverage cans littered the ground." Pull tabs on the ground? This detail would seem to set the action a generation or so ago, but in fact period and, for that matter, place are irrelevant in this hard-boiled homage, in which the villains get stacked up like cordwood. Bailey's prose can be eccentric, but there's no denying his narrative drive, which keeps the reader moving right along until the last page. Agent, Andrew Zack.(Feb. 13)

Reviewed on: 12/17/2001
Release date: 01/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 304 pages - 978-1-4616-6316-4
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