cover image The Painted Gun

The Painted Gun

Bradley Spinelli. Akashic, $15.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-61775-498-2

Set in and around San Francisco during the first Silicon Valley dot-com boom of 1997, this tricky and delightfully surprising crime novel from Spinelli (Killing Williamsburg) opens with a loving Chandleresque description of cigarette smoking (“By 4:19 the cigarette was burning out in the brown glass ashtray, sending a lone last tendril of smoke in a sacred mission to the ceiling”). A second-rate PI based in L.A. hires investigator David “Itchy” Crane to find a missing woman, an artist known only as Ashley. Itchy soon discovers that Ashley has been covering canvas after canvas with images of one subject: himself, home alone in his dining room, for example, or otherwise in places where no one else could have known what he was doing. When the shootings start and the bodies drop, Itchy learns that the guns involved all carry his fingerprints. Spinelli deftly segues from one genre to another—from hard-boiled noir to paranoid thriller, puzzle mystery (with each and every riddle logically explained), spy caper, and ultimately to something evocative of Bogart and Bacall. Spinelli is definitely a talent to watch. (Mar.)