When I opened this book, it was like sinking into the feel of a Sam Spade novel… Mr. Blakely has written in the style of “just the facts Ma’am”, Joe Friday or Mickey Spillane…
Sonny Busco is 55, a gumshoe type private detective, down and out on his luck. He is middle aged, broke, hunted by the local loan shark for monies owed, and needing a break. Into his office walks a pretty young woman, Pixy Sage, carrying a briefcase, a handful of cash, and a deal too good to pass up. Remember what your parents taught you about those kinds of deals? Sonny’s job, if he accepts it, is to take a briefcase to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and keep it out of the hands of the bad guys.
Just when you had thought you had the plot down, knew what the deal was, Mr. Blakely shakes the plot like dice in a cup, and turns the whole thing around. The good guys might not be the good guys, and are the bad guys good or bad??? Usually that makes my anticipation grow, but this didn’t.
We follow this detective as he realizes some things are not what they seem with Pixy and Bambi, and the other bimbo names for the females (a true James Bond tongue in cheek P.I. naming.) He is truly a sleuth, and we follow the clues as he finds them, and find again all that glitters is not gold.
The writer writes from Sonny’s point of view. I love mystery novels, and was really looking forward to reading this book. So why didn’t I love it? I think I could not connect with the story line. The story of the sentient steel was a good idea, steel that could be molded to anything, and sold to the highest bidder. But discussing it over and over was redundant, making it hard to follow Sonny’s deductions. Secondly, the cast kept on changing. Haji was there and gone, and so many others like that, so you were not able to connect with many of the characters. It is a shame, because when you do, Mr Blakely writes well, and writes them well…
If you like detective mysteries, take a chance and read it. The author, for his first writing, shows potential.
Review by Gloria Lakritz
Sr Reviewer and Review Chairperson of the Paranormal Romance Guild
Meet Sonny Busco, a 55 year old down and out private investigator. He’s in debt, out of shape, has a mob boss after him, his car is on its last leg and he just barely makes ends meet. Life has not been good for Sonny, but it looks likes things might just be looking up when young Miss Pixy Sage offers him $2500 to deliver a package to Sante Fe, NM. Sounds easy enough, so Sonny agrees to meet Pixy to arrange pick up of the package, and get some background information from her.
The package turns out to be sentient steel, an invention by her boss, a University professor. Sonny is overjoyed, here is his salvation, enough money to pay off the mob boss, get his car fixed and pay some bills, and all for a simple delivery.
Things go south fast for Sonny. He quickly learns this is not going to be an easy job and quite possibly little Miss Sage isn’t who she says is. Enter a beautiful mysterious assassin named Bevel Brand who is after Sonny, a very large scarred Navajo named Harlan Red-Bull who seems to want the steel and may or may not be working with Bevel, and an assortment of other odd characters like Hajii the student, Bambi the president of the techno-ethics club, Zen the free spirit, Dr. Pfannenstiel the professor, and Sal the pawn shop owner. Murder and mayhem soon ensue, and Sonny learns that he shouldn’t have gotten out of bed that morning after all.
Mr. Blakely has given us a story full of twists and turns, and ins and outs, all told from Sonny’s point of view. Sonny is no Magnum PI, Mannix, Peter Gunn or even Monk; I would even go so far as to say he is the antithesis of these famous PIs. He is sloppy, out of shape, not great looking and one might even say lazy. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders, and did solve the crime, but golly gee willakers, what a twisted plot he had to wade through to get there. When I finished the book, I still wasn’t sure how I felt about him, but I suspect I don’t like him.
As far as the other characters go, no one is who they seem to be, and one could use a score card to keep up with them. The mysterious Bevel Brand continues to be mysterious throughout the entire book. Is she a bad guy, is she a good guy, is she one of them, or one of us? It’s hard to tell, and even by the end of the book I was scratching my head over her. The characters that Sonny surrounds himself with on an everyday basis were fun, but a little too quirky for my tastes.
I like a good murder mystery; I like a good detective story, so in theory I should have loved this book. I did enjoy it, but when I was done, I was done. As I mentioned before, there were a number of plot twists and after a while I just got tired.
The number of characters meant that we really didn’t get to know anyone well, which was a shame, since I think there might have been a good story behind Harlan Red-Bull. I think my number one issue with the book was that it just seemed too cliché for me. The down trodden detective who is a major screw up, thus getting himself into one mess after another.
While this book didn’t hold out the promise I was hoping for, it did have a good premise and anyone who enjoys the genre should get a kick out of it. Mr. Blakely shows promise, and I look forward to seeing what he brings us in the future.
Review by Penelope Adams
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team