Saturday, September 18, 2010
Ed here: I'll be upfront with you here. I wrote my friends James Reasoner and Bill Crider and asked them how much they'd want to give me good reviews for my novel Stranglehold which will be out mid-October. Before I always paid them $1000 each. But this time they demanded $14,563.27 and in American dollars only. Be that as it may I want to thank them both for being such good buddies and for posting these reviews.
Stranglehold - Ed Gorman by James Reasoner
A couple of years ago I was in real reading funk, and the book that snapped me out of it was Ed Gorman’s SLEEPING DOGS, his first mystery novel featuring political consultant Dev Conrad. I’ve just read the second book in the series, STRANGLEHOLD, and even though I’ve been on a run of good books lately and didn’t need a funk-breaker, this one is just as much fun as Dev’s debut.
Maybe “fun” isn’t the right word to describe it, though. There are some moments of sly humor, of course, but what really comes through is the sense of melancholy and compassion that you find in all of Ed’s books. In this case, Dev’s firm is running the re-election campaign for an Illinois congresswoman, and when she starts disappearing at odd times and seems bothered by something, he’s called in by his associates to find out what’s wrong. A former army intelligence officer, Dev functions a lot like a private investigator in these books, while at the same time having to deal with the frustrations of a political campaign.
The congresswoman has a convoluted family history and secrets of her own, and when one of the campaign consultants for her rival winds up being murdered, she’s not a suspect herself, but it seems likely that the crime will be blamed on one of her relatives. With the police convinced they know who the killer is, Dev has to launch his own investigation and find the real murderer in order to have any chance of salvaging the congresswoman’s campaign. Naturally, Gorman piles on several more twists, including another murder, before Dev straightens everything out and discovers the truth.
While the mystery angle is top-notch, as usual, the real appeal of this book, as was the case with the first one, is Dev Conrad himself. Cynical, pragmatic, a little bitter, yet clinging to the hope that there really is some goodness still to be found in the world, he’s a great narrator and definitely the sort of guy you want to have on your side if you’re in trouble, whether it has anything to do with politics or not.
Stranglehold by Bill Crider
Stranglehold -- Ed Gorman
A couple of years ago, I reviewed Ed Gorman's Sleeping Dogs, a crime novel about political consultant Dev Conrad. I commented at the beginning of the review that I seemed to be reviewing the same books as James Reasoner at about the same time and that I often seemed to feel the same way about the books. Well, here we go again.
This time Dev's firm is working for Natalie Byrnes on the campaign of Susan Cooper, Natalie's stepdaughter. Susan's running for reelection to congress, and she's been behaving strangely. Dev's associates call him for help, and when he starts looking into things, he discovers a tangled mess of family secrets that are likely to hurt his client's chances. This could happen to any consultant, I guess, but then people start getting murdered. Something like that can really liven up a campaign.
Stranglehold is cynical about politics and the political process, and it's full of pathetic characters. But it's also very funny at times. Dev's a decent guy who's trying to make a living while working with people who are, shall we say, a bit less than decent. His observations have a lot of bite, and the depressing thing is that they're probably accurate. This isn't the kind of book that's going to make you feel any better about the campaigns that are going on all around us right now, but it's bracing entertainment just the same. Gorman's writing is, as usual, clear, concise, and trenchant. Don't miss this one.
Posted by Bill Crider at 10:00 AM 0 comments Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Google Buzz