cover image The Ultra Big Sleep

The Ultra Big Sleep

Patrick Swenson. Fairwood, $27.99 (316p) ISBN 978-1-933846-60-6

Thin characters and uninspired prose diminish Swenson's second novel featuring 22nd-century PI Dave Crowell (after 2014's The Ultra Thin Man). The opening has some promise as Crowell, hired by a suspicious wife, catches her husband, Alex Richards, in flagrante with a younger woman in a Seattle warehouse. But that routine assignment goes south when Richards snatches the detective's camera and flees further into the warehouse; despite the absence of another exit, the adulterer eludes Crowell and his alien partner, Tom Forno, until they find his corpse stuffed inside a crate. While the mystery of his death remains unresolved, Crowell gets another case, which turns out to be the stereotypical missing-person quest that has a personal angle for the sleuth. His alien client is searching for her father, who like Crowell's father was an envoy and mediator, and who vanished on the same day Crowell's father did. The drama of the setup isn't sustained, and the complex backstory is hard to access. Agent: Paul Lucas, Janklow & Nesbit. (Aug.)