Knotty and Darkly Amusing
The blurb at bn.com says this is the first book in the "Jimmy Warren, Private Investigator" series. This is partially correct. This is the first book in which ex-Cincinnati police detective Jimmy Warren is now a private investigator. But, this is actually book two in the series. "Souvenirs" is the first book. If you read "A Cincinnati Cold Case" first, you will read some significant spoilers for the first book. Having read "A Cincinnati Cold Case" first, I can honestly say I still want to go back and read "Souvenirs". I, also, want to read the books that come after this one. Now, on to the actual review.
The premise is a time-honored one, and the author makes it feel fresh and intriguing. The pacing is consistent. One reviewer found it slow. I disagree. I was hooked from the start. The first few pages seem a little abrupt, at first, because there are several rapid segues from one seemingly unrelated scene to another, but you soon see they are individual threads the author is weaving together into one riveting story. The setting is, obviously, in and around Cincinnati. The time frame is, around, 2014. For those who prefer to know these things, there are a scant handful of swear words sprinkled throughout the story. There is graphic violence. There is a graphic scene, as well as graphic talk, centered on crimes of a sexual nature.
The dialogue is sharp, interesting, sometimes darkly amusing, sad, and realistic. The conversational flow is smooth and natural. The characters are complex and compelling. They are believable and relatable. Jimmy Warren is smart, dogged, honest, kind, and funny. Initially, he is doing this gig until he can be reinstated as a cop, but, as the story progresses, he starts to like his time as a p.i. Izzy, Abby, and Eleanor are fascinating. Thug One and Thug Two provide dark comic relief.
The mystery is convoluted. The twists are exciting. The main mystery is three-pronged: the first part of the mystery involves Jimmy looking for the body of a missing young woman. The other two parts involve the search for a serial killer. There is, also, a secondary mystery involving a desk and a paternity case. The mystery of the young woman's body is resolved. This is NOT a cliffhanger. One of the parts about a serial killer is resolved, too. But, the part about a bed of roses remains kind of open. Does Jimmy learn of their significance in later books? Also, the paternity question remains a bit open. Jimmy has everything lined up to prove his case, but we don't see definitive end results. How the desk came to be in his office is, also, unanswered. I have a feeling all these details come to a head later in the series. At least, I hope they do. There is one other, brief, case involving a woman hiring Jimmy to follow her husband, because she think he's cheating on her. It is resolved, but it is a little odd. It doesn't really add much to the story. I can't decide if it is going to come back in later books as something more than it seemed, or if it was just a quick little case used to show Jimmy is starting to accept his gig as a private investigator.
In spite of the open-ended teasers, this is a satisfying read. I am looking forward to reading more of this series.
(review of free book)