Cold Winter Rain
Steven P. Gregory. Oak Mountain Press, $14.95 paper (225p) ISBN 978-0-9859928-1-1
Attorney Gregory utilizes a legal background to create a complex and suspenseful slice of hard-boiled noir that honors without imitating the stylistic and thematic influences of Dashiell Hammett. Eschewing over-simplistic views of morality, the characters here wade through a dark ambiguity mirrored by bleak atmosphere, descending into homicide and emotional bankruptcy. In Birmingham, Ala., Slate, the cynical but decent lawyer-investigator struggling with the deaths of his wife and son, agrees to locate attorney Don Kramer%E2%80%99s daughter, Kristina, unwittingly accepting an invitation into conspiracy and cover-ups. When a murdered man is discovered with Slate%E2%80%99s business card, police captain Leon Grubbs casts an eye on our hard-luck hero and a routine missing person%E2%80%99s case becomes a race against the clock and possibly the New Orleans mob. Slate is not a mere parody of classic genre detectives. Rather, his personality is convincing and complex, skillfully revealed without slowing the action-driven plot. Clean and sharp prose delivers maximum emotional effect, and the dialogue rings true. Though he doesn%E2%80%99t bring anything particularly new to the genre, Slate is nevertheless destined to become a series character welcomed by aficionados of John D. MacDonald and Raymond Chandler.
Reviewed on: 01/27/2014