Charlie Mack is a lesbian PI in Detroit, her small team are former officers of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and they make a tight knit group whose members compliment and challenge each other. Together they have formed and built a highly respected firm of Private Investigators.
Called to Birmingham, Alabama on the trail of a missing person, Charlie knows she is stepping into her own history, and facing new challenges. What seems like a simple case suddenly becomes deadly, with mafia style patriarchs and dark secrets that date from that cities infamous past. Charlie is right in the middle of a complex web, dealing with the history and attitudes of a different generation, while solving a crime, keeping out of trouble and trying to support her mothers failing mental health.
Ms Head has created a complex character that we are only beginning to know in what we can assume is to become a series of detective novels. Charlie and her mother are multi-demensional and a real treat, feisty, independent, interesting. Ms Head weaves this tale into Ernestine Mack’s personal history, and brings them alive in the telling. The characters at the PI firm are a delightful mix, gruff, charming, intelligent, difficult, real people with contradictions, personal battles and a genuine care for each other. The cast involved in this particular crime range from the slightly baffled victim to an array of variously guilty players, all of whom are drawn with skillful observation, as are the many bit players we meet along the way.
The pace is steady with occasional intense pressure points; we know ‘who-dunnit’, but we don’t quite know who did what to whom, and why, which keeps the interest going. The story ebbs and flows with genuine skill, giving us moments of quiet and calm, offset with intense emotions and rapid action. I particularly enjoyed how Ms Head winds the personal stories into the criminal investigation, making the players more real with their personal struggles.
The writing flows, eloquent and yet fitting to the theme, with that subtle edge of the classic PI tale. I thoroughly enjoyed this introduction to a new PI classic and look forward to finding out more about Ms Mack and her crew.
(publisher review copy received)
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