Reviewed by Linda Tonis
Member of Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
We meet Thomas Donne, a private investigator in San Francisco in 1928, he is a World War I veteran who physically survived the war but mentally is damaged and now he makes just enough money to pay rent and eat. When Herbert Townsend comes to his office hiring him to find a missing boy Thomas is a little leery but the money he is offered and the fact that it seems like a very easy job makes accepting the job a no brainer. Find this young man, do not approach and just give Townsend his address and he will receive $300 which would set him up for a while.
The job does prove easy only when the young man he found winds up dead. Townsend once again approaches him with an offer of a future job and big money to find the killer. Townsend was the Assistant Chief of Police and has his eyes set on becoming mayor, governor and eventually president and there is much more than meets the eye then Townsend wanting to find a boy in need of help. He returns to see Abe France, a spiritualist and magician who was the one who first gave him information on where to find the boy hoping that he knows more about what happened.
Abe France is the stage name that Abraham Ferencz, a Hungarian Jew uses and when he discovers that the boy who used to be one of his assistants is dead he is anxious to assist Thomas. Abe is also a damaged man who isn’t sure he wants to live or die and some of his magic tricks put death upfront and personal. Abe admits that most of his work is conning people but he gives them what they want and doesn’t hurt anyone so what he does is not illegal. What he doesn’t admit to anyone is that he can hear spirits and sometimes is possessed by them and drinking alcohol is the only way he has learned to keep the spirits from easily finding him.
Working together both men, gay in a time when that is deadly and definitely not something you are open about they grab onto each other and having sex is a way of finding release from the pain they both suffer. The boy is not the only one dead, his date on the night of his death and another one of Abe’s assistants are dead and Abe finally opens up to Thomas about his ability to hear spirits and be possessed by them. It isn’t difficult to prove since the spirit he connects with is a man Thomas once loved during the war, a man who knows things about him no one else could.
Everything becomes clear when Townsend admits to why he wanted the boy and what the boy took from him. Abe goes to his mentor, Emil for information about the missing item but before long Abe and Thomas’ lives are in danger. A visit from Agent Ralph Crespo from the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs makes it clear that the item in question should not fall into the wrong hands and that the Bureau would take it and protect it.
I have read many books filled with sex, suspense, murder, betrayal and surprises but none of them surprised me time and time again like this one did. Every time I thought I had a handle on what was going on I was wrong and not once did this book leave me bored. I don’t want to say too much for fear of giving anything important away but I highly recommend this book if you are looking for something to take your mind off the troubled times we are going through with the virus forcing us to be in quarantine, a book that will keep you guessing and forgetting what is going on around you.