Thursday, December 5, 2013

Blunt Darts, by Jeremiah Healy

After some other commitments, I'm finally done reading the third of Joe V.'s crime writer recs, Jeremiah Healy, following previous reads of Loren Estleman and Jonathan Valin. It's always hard to know where to start with an established series. In the first two cases, I simply went with what was readily available, but for Healy, I decided to start from the beginning of his Boston based John Francis Cuddy series. I'm not sure that that was the best choice, but at least it gave me the background of the character.

Cuddy is a former insurance investigator who's been forced out of the business after refusing to take part in some shady dealings and decides to go out on his own as a P.I. He has recently lost his wife, and if all that wasn't enough to deal with, he's also a Vietnam vet. It's perhaps a bit much to unpack in a first novel, and I'm curious to see where Healy takes all these elements in future books, but in this one, it mainly amounts to a few graveside visits where Cuddy talks to his wife, a drinking problem, and a bit of a violent streak.

The mystery Healy unravels for us is a good one, involving a missing boy whom nobody but his grandmother seems to care all that much about. It's a tangled tale with enough suspects to make it complicated, though they are all a little black and white. The women in the book, interestingly, seem a bit more complex, and the older women in the story don't let Cuddy off lightly in his assumptions about them. I liked that.

In this novel at least, Healy doesn't show quite the descriptive gifts that Estleman showed in his novel, and of the three male crime writers, it is still Estleman who stands out. But this may still prove to be a case where I caught him at the top of his game and the others at the beginning or end of their writing careers, so I'll have to give them each another try if I find the time. It's been fun to finally delve into familiar names that I never got around to reading at the time that they were perhaps most prominent. It does seem to be another era, writingwise, as in so much else.

No comments:

Post a Comment