cover image The Day the Music Died

The Day the Music Died

Edward Gorman. Carroll & Graf Publishers, $22.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-0569-6

There's a dead-on sense of time and place--February 1958 in small-town Iowa--in Gorman's latest, which, despite minor problems with plot resolution, makes an enjoyable start to a new series. Narrator Sam McCain, ""a young lawyer in a town that already had too many lawyers,"" earns most of his income by working as an investigator in Black River Falls for the wealthy and eccentric Judge Esme Anne Whitney, who smokes Gauloises in Chesterfield country and takes pleasure in shooting McCain with rubber bands. The day after a long drive to what turns out to be Buddy Holly's last concert before his fatal plane crash, McCain discovers the body of the wife of Whitney's rotten nephew, Kenny, and then is unable to stop Kenny from killing himself. Everybody, including the loutish local police chief, is sure that Kenny murdered his wife, but McCain has his doubts. Complicating matters are the troubles of a local former football star now crippled by booze and of McCain's teenage sister, who is trying to get an abortion. Gorman sketches the people of Black River Falls, especially McCain's family and various girlfriends, with a sharp eye, and even the very late appearance of a possible villain doesn't spoil the fun: despite the title, Gorman, as usual, rocks. (Jan.)