Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Hardboiled Detective is on the Case in 'Black Shadows'

Review: BLACK SHADOWS (Wild Wolf Publishing 2011)
Author: Simon Swift


BLACK SHADOWS takes place back in a time when dames was dames and men wore fedoras. Detectives talked tough, threw punches and pounded the pavement looking for clues, solving crimes because when a detective gets killed it's bad for business and bad for detectives everywhere.

So, it takes place in New York City, circa 1940.

Private dick (aka, detective) Errol Black, aka, Eezy, is sitting in his office when the lovely Claudia comes in and hires him to follow her no-good fiance, George Ferriby, who she thinks is stepping out on her. Why, that awful man! But wait! Then, there's a redhead, and her name is Marlow. Hmm ... sound familiar? Anyhow, Marlow says she's Claudia's sister -- well, not really her blood sister, but her best friend in the whole world.

So ... whilst this is going on there are these other guys doing stuff. (BTW, do you like that word? Whilst? Because you're going to see it a lot. :)) In fact, there's a fat man known as the Coward. Or the Portly Gangster. Maybe. He has a kid with a gun working for him. And it seems a dame is associated with them. I won't say who. Does this sound at all familiar? They want to meet Black up in Woodstock. And hold a rock concert? Of course not. They want to find something. And it's not the Maltese Falcon, believe it or not.

And somehow this all relates to the murder of Dyke Spanner, Black's former partner at The Shadow Man Detective Agency which died with Terry Shadow (accidentally) in a Mob hit on Arthur Flegenheimer five years before.

Plus the Tong, aka, the Chinese mafia, are all mixed up in this, too.

Oh, did I mention the plot is a bit complex? Maybe you've already sussed that out.

Suffice it to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Simon Swift is a clever wordsmith. Thus, some of the book's familiar criminal scenarios read far better than they might in less capable hands. And the plot was a most meandering tangle of threads ... but it all works out somehow, right? :)

And, I might add that Swift can be awfully funny, too. However, even though you might get the idea that Black is like any old hardboiled PI, he isn't just Sam Spade, okay? He actually seems to have a heart, which makes him different and interesting. But he ain't mushy, either. You got that?

So, if you enjoy the old hardboiled detective novels, you're in for a real treat. Because this is a book that truly harkens back to a time when dames was dames and men wore fedoras and detectives were tough talkers. There's just one thing. There was no rock and roll in the 1940s. Oh, no! :-0

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